The Alcatraz Kid
Record Review by Amber Henson
Although “All songs written, performed, and recorded” on Jeremy Messersmith’s album The Alcatraz Kid were by him (with a one song exception of keys), he is first and foremost a singer. His voice rings out paramount during the length of the CD. Messersmith could almost just survive with his smooth tones alone, in some new age a capella venture.
This isn’t to say that he’s not a great guitarist (there are some beautiful strums on the album), or a great lyricist (more about that later), but even without his voice being mixed louder than any other instrument, one can tell that that’s really what this album is about. His sound is reminiscent of The Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. Messersmith knows he doesn’t need to take his voice to the limit, that he sounds perfectly wonderful just keeping it in the mid-level.
This is, to some extent, a break up album. Tracks like “Novacane” talk about numbing his broken heart. The next song, “Easy Lovers, Hardly Friends” is pretty self-explanatory. And “Beautiful Children” contains some of those impressive lyrics mentioned early. After being sure the relationship is over, he walks home, “sewing tear drops in the snow,” which is heart rendering whether you’re in the middle of a break up, or have never experienced one.
There are a couple of weird notions that Messermith seems somewhat obsessed with. The concepts of ‘scientists’ and ‘jobs’ crop up every few songs. Jobs, well, those are a bane of every musicians life. But the scientist thing? In “Snow Day”, a song that seems to be about childhood, he croons “you’ll be a scientist, our little scientist.” Later, in the aptly named “Scientists” Messersmith tells, well, I’m not entirely sure who he’s telling, “You should’ve made me a drunkard, made me a liar, made me a preacher with a head full of fire” and so on, until “But I chose water over wine, jars of formaldehyde, think of all the things I’ve missed, why’d you make me a scientist?”
Well, I’m glad that he’s a musician not a scientist, so that he could create this lovely album.
Jeremy Messersmith - Interview
Jeremy Messersmith - The Silver City
Jeremy Messersmith - The Reluctant Graveyard
Jeremy Messersmith - Live - July 19, 2011
More by this writer:
Peel - Peel
The Lovemakers - Misery Loves Company
Rio en Medio - Bride of Dynamite
The Hourly Radio - History Will Never Hold Me