If you’re going to be a musician that strikes out on your own, especially an acoustic guitar wielding singer-songwriter then you had better know that you are about to embark on the absolute worst long haul you are ever going to be involved in. You generally work alone, and play shows to crowds, no matter what size they are, either clap out of drunkenness or pity; sometimes both.
Enter Brad Wilson, a singer-songwriter from Ocean County, New Jersey who likely knows these things all too well. His new album Somewhere In These Hills does have its fair share of good moments, as is evident with the opening track “Part of it All” an acoustic ballad, which gets a bit of bounce from some rollicking piano and the John Mayer like “Leaving Home.”
Wilson occassionally falls victim to many of the things that prey upon the unseasoned singer-songwriter. The first thing one notices is the static lyricism, phrasing and thematic constructs behind these songs, which lack originality. Some of his songs contain routine themes of either heartbreak or loss of sense of place, which are, don’t get me wrong, universal themes. However they are easily overused and often end up causing the writer to come off like a lovelorn and depressed high school aged poet. Luckily this oversight is often easily fixable, although it takes a lot of hard work and determination, something that some of the songs on Somewhere In These Hills do not yet have.
If I could give one piece of advice to Brad Wilson it would be to pick a few key influences and listen to their records every day as much as you can. Just keep listening to the same song you like over and over until you figure out what it is that makes that song good, and then attempt to emulate, but not copy that song. When you have that emulated song nice and polished get rid of it entirely and start writing a completely new song. Polish that new song until it kills you to hear or play it, so that you learn to hate your own creation. Because that is what a good songwriter of any genre learns, is that it’s not enough to take an acoustic guitar to open mic night unless you just want to be another singer-songwriter in an ocean of others.
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