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Monday, November 4, 2013

JD Eicher & The Goodnights - Into Place

JD Eicher & The Goodnights - Into Place
2013, Rock Ridge Music

You’re going to hear a lot of comparisons made in conversations about JD Eicher & The Goodnights.  Critics have tied the band to Coldplay, Keane, The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie and The Script.  These are great compliments in a game where name recognition is key, but none of these comparisons does the band justice.  JD Eicher is an original voice, both literally and figuratively. With a lyrical talent culled from the great tradition of American singer/songwriters, Eicher also brings the melodic sensibility of great British songwriters such as Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello.    JD Eicher & The Goodnights recently dropped their third album Into Place, the third part of a trilogy that began with The Shape Of Things and continued with ShiftingInto Place is Eicher’s most accomplished writing to date.

Into Place launches with "Ode To The Underdog", a thematically and musically appealing lead track with a touch of identity crisis. The verses are edgy, the bridge is angst-filled, and the chorus is uplifting and bright. In spite of these apparent contradictions the piece works. By the time Eicher breaks into the 'D' section after the chorus you've bought in and willing to go along or the ride. "Give It Up" has the sort of simple, hook filled chorus of which hits are made. The positive vibe and message are without cliché, and Eicher sings it like the top notch front man he is. This has potential hit written all over it. "You've Got A Lot Of Growing Up To Do" finds Eicher calling out practically everyone, including himself, for misbehavior a great and small.   Once again the pop aesthetic is very much alive and well here, and Eicher sells the song like a pro. 

"People" is a contemplative look at expectations and people's tendency not to love up to them. This is a quiet moment of pragmatic melancholy that's beautiful in its simplicity. Jerry DePizzo of O.A.R.  sits in on "Lately Lady", while Joy Ike combines her rather in impressive voice with Eicher's in a rambunctious blues-influenced romp. "I'd Like To Get To Know You" is the sort of light hearted love song that occasionally takes of up the charts or gets selected for inclusion in a romantic comedy soundtrack. Things turn a little deeper on "The Last Love Song", a pensive love song that's more serious and serene, and full of the angst of an as yet unrequited love. 

"Edgar Green's Time Machine" is a brilliant story song with a gently rolling media that carries you along a tale of genius, madness and joy. "Aaron" is a brilliant story of man who can't escape his own demons, but who wrestles them over a piano after hours at a bar. This story/monologue is incredibly real, driven by an unforgettable honesty and a lyric fortitude that is surprising even for Eicher. "Oh My God" is a philosophical dissection of profundity and human imperfection set to a quiet but insistent piano-based arrangement. Eicher laments an inability to be perfect in light of basic human needs in a one-side recitative with the Almighty. "Into Place" is a song about growing up and finding yourself; the understanding of what's important that comes with finding your place in the world. There is a celebration in here that's complicated but full of joy. Eicher delivers are all of this In a four and a half minute performance to remember. The album closes with a brief reprisal of the final track that features just Eicher and his guitar. This ending seems appropriate for the story-based album, but is perhaps the only questionably conceived/executed moment on the album. The ending is simply too abrupt and too short to resonate, and does more to distract the listener from what came before than anything else. 

Into Place presents JD Eicher & The Goodnights as one of the finest new purveyors of the pop singer/songwriter tradition.  Make all the comparisons you want, but Eicher is an original.  Into Place will likely find itself crowd the top of many year-end lists, and is certainly worth of being a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)