Make no mistake: the musicianship on Old Man Markely’s second album, Down Side Up, is nothing short of masterful. Members John Carey, Annie DeTemple, Jeff Fuller, Joey Garibaldi, Ryan Markley, John Rosen and Katie Weed certainly know their way around their instruments, and they lay down a wonderful platform which, ideally, would highlight lyrics that were equally as masterful; unfortunately, that’s where Old Man Markley stumbles.
There are three songs on this album that seem more problematic than the rest: first, “America’s Dreaming” tries far too hard to be a political song and ends up sounding like a half-scribbled laundry list of societal ills. Just about every current social problem gets name-checked, but not explored in depth. Housing crisis? Check. Disappearance of the middle class? Check. Crooks as politicians? Check. Freedom isn’t free? Check. Rather than sounding like a rallying cry, it comes off as ill-informed instead.
The sixth track, “So Much More,” addresses the concept of duality; it seems the point of the song is to explore the idea that there’s more than one way to look at any given situation. But similar to, “America’s Dreaming,” it devolves into a laundry list of topics that never get explored in depth. “Change ain’t just the coins in your pocket/Lost means more than just without a way,” singer John Carey declares. Unfortunately, the song moves on before giving those ideas any credence.
The album’s eighth track, “Beyond the Moon” is easily the most disappointing. The chorus rings, “Don’t wanna lose my mind like Gary Busey did/Once upon a time he was the same as you and me/But if I lose my mind like Gary Busey did/Promise me you’ll be around to keep me company.” It seems to be some sort of strange attempt at a love song, but here’s the problem: Gary Busey didn’t go crazy as much as suffer severe head trauma and permanent brain damage after a motorcycle accident. But he acts weird, so let’s just call him crazy and ignore those pesky details.
This is the problem with Down Side Up: for all the fantastic instrumentation, there is a distinct immaturity that runs through the lyrics, an immaturity that, left unchecked, yields some especially regretful results.
Purchase a CD of ‘Down Side Up’ here!
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