Hey fans! With the release of Fiction Family Reunion less than 2 weeks away, it’s high time for our song-by-song album review. I’ve been putting off writing this for almost two months now, mainly because I like to have some time with the new music in order to give a more honest opinion, but also because this album is difficult to define in a couple of well-phrased sentances. It’s going to be interesting to hear the different reactions from listeners when the album is released. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the review and be sure to share your own thoughts and opinions in the comments below! Keep checking back as I’ll be adding more and more songs to the post in the week leading up to the release!
It’s been several years since the first Fiction Family release, and the band’s second time around brings not only a change in line up (“officially” adding touring partners Tyler Chester and Aaron Redfield), but a change in sound for the Family.
The first album, in all it’s eclectic brilliance, came across a bit like a mixed tape of Jon Foreman songs and Sean Watkins songs. The styles merged occasionally (“Betrayal”, “Please Don’t Call It Love”) but the band never really had a signature sound.
Fiction Family Reunion is changing that – and the band is coming into their own. The music is more cohesive, more constant – but it never gets boring. Indeed, at 36.6 minutes, the record is short and it’s over before your ready for it to be. However, the guys subscribed to the “less is more” thinking on this one, and the choice to keep it short was intentional. 14 songs were tracked, but the band wanted to keep it tight, citing the fact that many of their own favorite albums were under 40 minutes. Still, you can’t help but wish for just a few more songs as you hit the repeat button – and trust me, you WILL be hitting repeat.
While the new album presents a more united front for the Family, it’s still an eclectic mix of songs – from whimsical guitar ditties (“Reality Calls”), to folk rollicks (“Give Me Back My Girl”), to songs of convicting lyrical brilliance (“God Badge”), the album dives into several musical genres fearlessly. The band is talented – and brave enough – to be willing to experiment a bit and it’s quite a ride. Above all, though, they NEVER lose their sense of fun.
The delays between the two Fiction Family albums were long and numerous, but this song makes me grateful for them. As you might recall, Fiction Family Reunion was supposed to have been released well over a year ago – but then it got postponed… and postponed… and postponed… and so on. And it’s a good thing too, or this tune would have never made the cut. After the delays, the band went back to the studio to record a few different songs and Avalon came out of that session. I find this to be one of the most lyrically creative tunes on the album, and being familiar with the legend of King Arthur and Avalon, I enjoy the subtle nods to the legend. “It starts to feel like mythology, banging at my door, I can hear legend calling me, like I’ve been here before.” The chorus has one of the catchiest moments on the record as Jon sings out “Nothing to it, I’m ruined, I’m so lost man, I’m feeling barely human, can you get me through? Avalon!” Aaron’s drum work is BRILLIANCE as the strong beat cleverly underlines the “I tried so hard, I tried so hard, to be the king of the world… but my broken heart, my broken heart got shot down by the girl” line. Jon’s vocals are another strength as he plays a bit with his range, hitting some fantastic high notes. The backing vocals are also executed superbly. A stand-out track for sure.
Guilt is Sean’s song and it’s got all the classic elements that we love – catchy, interesting hooks, honest confessions and clever wordplay. (“TV preachers spitting fear, cause love is just too simple. Smoke and fire is all I hear, and how I’m oh so sinful. But sometimes, guilt just ain’t enough.”) While Sean’s vocals are smooth and cunning as always, the real distinction here is the EXCELLENT musicianship going on on the background. The guitar work is layered and diverse. The keys are precise, shining at all the right moments. Different sounds and moments are given space to breathe and the result is fresh and exact.
Check back later for more reviews of the rest of the songs on the album!