Belying its name, The Blank String Sextet is the one-man-band of Jake Wheeler, a singer/ songwriter from southern Ohio. His first album under his new musical moniker Oh Boy! Surely There Is Rebirth. Right? is an acoustic indie rock concept album that he recorded in his home studio, and it was released in January of 2017.
The album begins with droning organ chords in “Rechance 1” before they are quickly joined by quietly strummed acoustic guitar chords and Wheeler’s hushed vocals. Violins and reverb-laced electric guitars add to the song’s sound as the guitar and organ continue to cycle through chords with relaxing ease. A beautiful piano riff joins the opening track to “Nothing About Abo” a reflective piece that highlights Wheeler’s vocals layered on top of a minimalist soundscape.
Returning to acoustic guitar and piano in “Bridge Walking” a throbbing stringed instrument runs below the rest of the instrumentation, drawing together the track nicely. Already a relaxed album, “Materialization (To Someone Else)” manages to quiet down even further, lulling the listener into a deeply meditative state with gradually building harmonies and melodies. The energy continues to build in “Midlife Marks the End” an upbeat piece with guitar chords punching in to accentuate the song’s pulsing rhythm.
Continuing with “Bridge Walking Too” Wheeler brings his full creativity to the table as multiple instruments takes turns in the spotlight behind Wheeler’s steady, comforting voice. The vocals in “Sky Quirk” float high above the rest of the instrumentation, bringing a light, bright feel to the otherwise ambient, solemn song.
Perhaps the most memorable and honest song on the entire record, “Words I Believe In” pieces together strummed acoustic chords with catchy electric guitar riffs, thoughtful lyrics, and lush strings and organ sounds.
The album comes to an end with “Some Bloody Brass Bird” a hauntingly beautiful piece led by piano and “Rechance 2” the longest track on the entire record that pulls all the stops in Wheeler’s musical repertoire. Overall, Oh Boy! Surely There Is Rebirth. Right? is a nontraditional take on a classic singer/songwriter format, and it is within the complexities woven into each of the songs that The Blank String Sextet shows its true musical genius.
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