Aaron Scholz is a singer/songwriter from Madison, Wisconsin who recently released Third Place. He explains that the album was based on an unfinished album he started back in the 2000’s. I thought the theme behind the album was interesting. The artist mentions: “Third Place (the record) is a song cycle dedicated to the concept of a "third place" as described by sociologist Ray Oldenberg, wherein your first place is where you live, a second place is where you work and a third place can be any place people gather: a bar, coffee house, restaurant, church, school, clubhouse, etc.”
The album is more or less folk with a hint of rock. There’s a lot of warm Americana infused into the songs and it starts with “What Would It Take.” The clean, reverb laced guitar and subtle beat are immediately inviting. I liked the vocals as soon as I heard them, which felt nostalgic and hopeful. It’s a strong opener and indicative of the other types of songs you will hear.
The organ and guitar on “No Station '' create a sense of heartfelt intimacy while “Dorothy Door” is one of the catchiest and perhaps most single worthy song on the album. I loved the vocals on “Dorothy Door.”
I’m a sucker for laptop steel guitar and “Little Bars” implements that instrumentation which doubles down on the sense of nostalgia although the lyrics seem to revolve around gratitude. “Telephone” is a little different. This is another great song. The tremolo infused guitar and organ creates a little more of a psychedelic quality. I thought the way the drums came in gave it a late ’60s vibe.
Scholz has more success with “The Sky” which contains a fantastic vocal performance. Simon & Garfunkel came to mind in terms of the song structure. The more sparse “Payphone” is emotionally resonant and a little darker than some of the previous songs but blossoms in a pretty beautiful way about half way through.
There’s some of the best guitar work on “Dry Run Creek” while “St Paul” is perhaps the most upbeat and lively song on the album. Last but not least is “The Place” which ends with nostalgia.
Scholz managed to pull out these old songs and make a cohesive and heartfelt album. There’s a nice flow to the songs and I suggest listening from beginning to end. Highly recommended.
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