Travis Williams tells six separate stories about six different relationships with his EP Subtle Thoughts. It’s roughly 15 of the most emotion-laden, deeply powerful minutes you’ll spend listening to music. Short and sweet “Past Tense (Intro)” opens simply, with a few acoustic guitar riffs laid on top of one other. No vocals are present here; it sounds almost like an equipment test, as a means of finding the sound that will dominate the rest of the EP.
“New Jersey” focuses on storytelling, with gentle variations in the melody appearing as punctuation marks rather than interfering with the words. I really like how there are double vocals; one stays in the midrange and only lets a little sharpness peek through, while the other is a quiet scream that brings the emotion in the song full circle. “The Struggle” paints the picture of a scene that will hit home for a lot of people. It starts with a weighed optimism that surprisingly carries for most of the song, despite getting the sense early from the melancholy tone that it may not last long.
“Perfecting a Lost Art” changes the focus from projection on an outer source and turns the heat inward. If taken chronologically, this sounds like the point where Williams has grown weary of the tumultuous situations and begins to reflect on whether he may be the reason for it all.
“Wishful Thinking” takes the perspective shift a step further, making him more of a third person observing the situation and offering advice. This song eschews the chords for note progressions, which prove to be a good foundation in this particular case. I suspect that of all the songs, “Collapsing II” will hurt the most. Most people know the pain of remembering the one who got away, and this song perfectly captures the feelings involved with that – so much so, that I was in tears by the end of the song.
This album is slightly depressing, as it may bring to mind memories that were long ago suppressed (it certainly did for me). But, it’s depressing in the most uplifting way possible – and it’s served with a heaping dose of humility. I loved listening to Williams’ stories, and found a catharsis that is only achieved through the comfort of knowing you are not alone in life’s experiences and travels. If you’re in a great mood, you’ll appreciate this album for the stories contained within. If you’re not in a great mood, or in the midst of a break up, grab a glass of wine and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and revel in the pure honesty offered here. Either way, you’ll be glad you gave this a listen.
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