Good old heartbreak. Your first major breakup is always the worst. I’m thirty-six now and just want Marion Herbert to know that it gets easier. Not just for his personal situation that he mentions on his Bandcamp page but it gets easier once your overactive hormones subside and your frontal cortex fully develops. You will be able to handle the end of relationships better on all angles with time and experience.
Luckily for Herbert he has music to provide some solace. His album Shoebox Songs seems to serve as a cathartic release with confessional, journal like lyrics. By the fourth song I wanted Herbert to stop feeling sorry for himself and pull up his boot straps. The most likable thing about the album is that there are some hopeful, optimistic songs towards the end of the album which I thought were quite delightful.
This is Hebert’s first attempt at releasing and writing music. His guitar playing is simple (the guitar is sometimes out of tune), as are the songs but they are some inspired moments. He reminded me of early material from The Microphones and Bright Eyes at his best. On that note he should definitely keep at it on the guitar and learn some advanced techniques especially if he is going to keep it this sparse.
His lyrics aren't poetic like Oberst or Elverum and avoid metaphors, puns, etc. They read like a narrative and arguably a little too personal to relate to. He sings, “You were heading out to the pavement outside the bar where you went just to have a cigarette and I would sit and smoke one too. Everything you said was new when I had heard it from you and I didn't want to think of how I'd heard it all from someone else before” on “A Picture of a Meaningless Conversation.”
A lot of the songs have a very similar feel to them. We find Herbert lamenting in the microphone in a similar way on “Goodnight Sweetheart” and “Something Positive.”
Shoebox Songs is an album that felt mainly geared for Herbert himself. I’m perfectly fine with that and hope it provided him with some comfort. I’m not sure how much musical expertise Herbert has but this album could be a one time thing or could a catalyst for his growth as a musician.
There is just no denying Herbert has a lot to learn as a songwriter. He certainly has seeds of potential but has to make some progress if he wants to make this his career. On the bright side he has time. I started writing music when I was fourteen, went to school for composition and still feel like I’m still improving and learning.
Overall, Shoebox Songs is an album that felt deeply personal and a way for Herbert to come to grips with his own emotions. He has potential and I encourage him to keep learning, experimenting and pushing his abilities to the next level.
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