If you are a human being than you most likely have experienced a traumatic event, which led to a couple of gloomy months if not years. In the case of Paul Steele the creative singer/songwriter for Along Came Paully he used his music on his seventh album Clarities, Epiphanies, and Leftovers to help facilitate his own healing process over such an event. One of the great things about music is that it can be a cathartic experience for the artist as well as the listener. As you listen to the album it often feels like a purge and it reminded me of my days in college listening to Bright Eyes and feeling a connection to Conor Oberst.
Paul Steele actually has a lot in common with Oberst. He sometimes sound like a combination between Oberst and Colin Meloy from the Decemberists when he sings but more impressive was the creative, intelligent lyrics he implements throughout the album. He steers towards poetic metaphors and circular themes rather than creating narratives. Depending on what lens you look at it from some might call it a bit pretentious but more often than not his delivery felt heartfelt, which made it easier to digest.
The album was recorded DIY style on Tascam Record, which is obvious when you hear the recording. Luckily, the sparse instrumentation forgives the poor recording quality although better production would have helped the emotional impact of some of the songs.
The album starts out with one of the highlights of the album called “Rings Of Saturn,” which revolves around what sounds like a Glockenspiel that you would play in music class when you were a kid. The arrangement is excellent and quite impressive from a technical standpoint. The vocal melody and delivery work throughout the song. Steele sings, “I find my life to be divided between things I'm annoyed by and things I find joy inside.” Steele sounds most like Oberst when he plays songs with his acoustic guitar. “Leftovers” is a decent song that contains vocal harmonies, a tambourine, a harmonica and a banjo, and has a transition to an energetic ending.
Throughout Clarities, Epiphanies, and Leftovers Steele sounds like a young man who is trying to figure things out. It would be easy to criticize him for taking himself too seriously at points but he does impart some humor on occasion, which helps alleviate that feeling. The songs are there, the lyrics are good and overall I found it to be an enjoyable listening experience.
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