Artists International Inc. (label)
01 January 2018 (released)
10 January 2018
Coming to us in the dead of the winter is an optimistic album that challenges the listener to see the potential for good around them. Andrew Reed's latest album If All the World Were Right is a collection of songs that explore removing the obstacles, at times self-created, that prevent us from being all that we can be. Reed delves into themes of modern alienation, unfulfilled love, and existential uncertainty, tackling them with hope and levity. His voice sits in a whispered rasp, chambered and ready to be unleashed when needed in a Peter Murphy-like croon. Behind that voice are songs anchored primarily by a shimmering acoustic guitar. To fill out the warm, airy sound, Reed has enlisted a backing group of incredibly tasteful players who give the record a glowing feel of nostalgia.
The opener 'Sailed Away' kicks off with the calming seaside afternoon sounds of gulls and waves. Reed's shuffling guitar pairs off with Aaron Price's enchanting piano lines to go for a walk in the sand. Reed's lyrics are ponderous and reminiscent. His mind floats to other times and places as he spends his afternoon by the water, 'Sailed Away' perfectly taps into that state of reflection of a warm summer day by the ocean and the fleeting sense of clairvoyance that it can deliver.
'Cure My Mind' though still fairly light musically, digs into some of the darker places of the psyche. Presented as a series of questions, the protagonist asks for help to strip away the mental obstacles keeping him stagnant and unable to clearly see himself. Price's organ turns this tune into a kind of gospel song. It acts as a prayer for clarity and perseverance without having to use the touchstone of a specific higher power or deity to which to direct the requests. It's a refreshing bit of ambiguity that allows the message to become universal.
The cosmopolitan ode 'Life in the City' gives a bittersweet toast to the ironic tendencies of city life. Finding beauty in glistening building rather than glistening rivers, feeling accomplishment from buying things rather than achieving things. Reed's Murphy-like drawl comes out over the fusion-style chord changes of the chorus. The title track acts as a kind of meditation, imagining a utopian world as a way of vanquishing personal demons and seeing through to better days. It radiates with a John Lennon/George Harrison optimism.
Andrew Reed's latest album is a much-needed dose of measured optimism. In his songs, he strives for success openly but does nothing to cover up his mistakes or scars along the way. It's a refreshing approach to an artistic landscape that seems to be filled with either blind braggadocio or undefeatable self-loathing. The only major negative is that at times, the chord structure and guitar phrasing became somewhat repetitive. Otherwise, If All the World Were Right is a strong, inspiring album.