Some bands choose to make upbeat, celebratory albums while others take a more ominous path, creating moody albums that highlight loneliness or confusion.  Other Lives falls into the latter category.  The folk/indie rock group from Stillwater, Oklahoma, released their sophomore album, Tamer Animals, on May 10, 2011, but it’s the band’s self-titled debut effort that it is a perfect example of sweeping, dramatic songs that stay with you long after the record stops playing.

Other Lives finds a balance between bittersweet intimacy, mostly due to Jesse Tabish’s saddened vocals, and grandeur, with its alluring, soulful piano arrangements, string section and rich harmonies.  While never complex or abstract, there is a depth to Tabish’s lyrics in their ability to perfectly convey loss, fear, and longing.  With songs about the sacrifices we make (Paper Cities), hopelessly waiting for something to make our lives better (How Could This Be?), or how average our lives are in spite of such amazing surroundings (Epic), Other Lives embraces emotions that most people keep buried.

Best Tracks:

E Minor has a melancholy cello and gentle piano arrangement and is the perfect introduction to the album.  With mournful lyrics, E Minor is the most effective song on Other Lives’ debut album.  I forgot something of younger days, when there were no cares/Clouds appear lit that made me ask, how their lives could have been spent.  

Black Tables is one of the barer songs on the album, up until the chorus, which shows up late in the song and shifts the emotion from introspection to yearning.

The piano in Speed Tapes opens with an enchanting repetition like a spinning carousel.  It twists and winds throughout the song while Tabish’s melancholy voice keeps the arrangement grounded and personal.

When and Where:

Make no mistake, this ain’t no party album or karaoke sing-along.  While it may at times seem too heavy without any upbeat breaks, Other Lives is the perfect dreary, rainy day, stay indoors and do nothing kind of album.

E Minor

Black Tables

Speed Tapes

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