I am at an impasse in my life. Call it a midlife crisis or call it what you will but lately I’ve felt that something needs to give. I can’t keep going on this way I tell myself but yet I keep going on this way. I jump when I’m told to jump and even worse I jump when I tell myself to jump. I wish I could put it a better way but I cannot. However the German born Denmark based singer/songwriter Thomas Büchel seems to have the same problems and seems to have them under control. Perhaps it’s his debut record Songs about Life and other Incidents that made this all possible. It’s an open book of personal stories set to music that ranges from jazz guitar and folk and even has some faint hints of electronics.
Songs about Life and other Incidents wastes no time in getting into the nitty gritty as it opens with the short but confessional “Prologue” which details his comeuppance as a musician and how he seemed to find himself as a musician after some years being away from it.
The personal stories continue on the “Sønderboulevard.” Buchel seems to be having a conversation with himself about the choices he has made up to this moment, “I’m hear asking myself why/couldn’t I just stay where I was before / couldn’t I just go on like I used to do,” he laments in a plain-spoken voice that still carries in it a hint of sadness when recollecting the past. He begins, “Goodbye” in this same slow pace of recollection but then the song takes a rocking turn and Buchel’s voice seems to have gained more confidence.
Even when Buchel’s not singing, as on the wittily titled “Instrumental” he shows off his guitar chops and his excellent use of sound and echo comes through; the song is almost then like the white space in a painting. His guitar skills remain sharp on the tough yet brutally restrained strumming of the alt country styled “Crossing the Line.” Later he adds some interesting instrumentation to the mix on “Song For My Father,” as he brings in musicians Christoph Titz on the Flügelhorn and Lars Vestergaard Larsen who plays the marimba. The song is touchingly sad but also very beautiful.
Songs about Life and Other Incidents is essentially like reading someone’s journal or listening in on a conversation that you’re not supposed to. This sentimental story telling style is the very heart and soul to this record, and I was glad to listen.
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