Trent Herzman is a folk-rock singer-songwriter from San Diego. Whilst he may be a solo artist, Herzman is supported by backing instruments, recording and production at the hands of Eric Schneider and James Page.
A deeply personal experience which details the trials and tribulations of Herzman’s time in Carlsbad Village, Life in the Village opens with “Days Go By Slowly.” An inaudible phone conversation fills the opening seconds of this LP, perhaps shedding some light on the preceding events for those listening keenly. Slow, jagged, acoustic guitar and a delicate beat emerge to support Herzman’s introspective lyrics and emotive singing. He warns that his mind has gone insane and he can take no more, as he reflects on events of his past life. Wearing the same clothes, endless days, the police and setting places alight with a match and gasoline. Whether or not such things are relatable, or literal, one becomes engrossed in the account Herzman gives.
"White & Blues” opens with verses continuing the folk sensibilities of the opener, but progresses into a chorus layered with groaning guitar bends that transform the entire song. This is one of the highlights of the album, though I feel this aspect of the track could have built into something else, rather than slipping back into the same acoustic verses.
It is “The Years Drain Out” which finds its place as one of the most sincere pieces on the album, layering reverberating, nostalgic vocals over soft and tempered acoustic guitar. ‘I need something to numb the pain / But these pills / They drive me insane.’ Whilst knowing none of the private details or depths of events in Carlsbad Village, it is hard for listeners to resist at least feeling, through the tones of his voice, the ways in which the place, people and events changed Herzman.
Continuing in this vein, “Just An Escape” emerges with an acoustic chord sequence reminiscent of tear-jerking ‘90s Britpop. Herzman accuses that “I’m just an escape from your evil place” -words which cut deeply. An Oasis-esque guitar riff screeches from the depths of the post-chorus lull, but somehow feels at home against the soft acoustics lying beneath it. Nothing feels rough; everything has been calculated. This is most certainly the best track on the album.
Herzman has finely tuned his skills at lyric-writing and expertly paints a moving canvass of his memories. If there were one piece of advice to take when creating future art, it would perhaps be to deliver more of those gut-wrenching vocals present on “Just An Escape” or “Leaving Today.” Herzman’s singing is impressive, but sometimes to be invested in a story we must not only see what the artist saw, but feel what they felt. That being said, Life in the Village is a great album for those enticed by folk-rock hybrids. It is well worth a listen.
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