Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Longing to Belong

I am not normally a fan of the ukulele. It usually sounds like a superficial instrument—something for casual thoughts and light hearted experiences. Having said that, Longing to belong is less the sound of a luau and instead calls to mind a lonely beach and a setting sun—a time for private thoughts and personal reflections. To Eddie’s credit, he can make the ukulele sound like a memory.

Still, those live performances of Eddie’s uke songs from a decade ago never made much of an impression on me, and my excitement for a second solo record from Eddie was tempered by the fact that it was a ukulele record. Having said that, Longing to Belong was a pleasant surprise. It is confessional and intimate, and while the ukulele is not a particularly immediate instrument, it does give the song an innocence it wouldn’t have on guitar, and mixed with Eddie’s breathless vocals Longing to Belong sounds like someone admitting their love for the first time. There’s a charming nervousness to the performance—as if voicing his love is a risk, that by keeping it inside he keeps it safe and singing about it gives it the opportunity to escape

Strings are one of music’s great clichés, and the cello may be a bit much here (it doesn’t quite feel affected, but it’s close). They give the song a calculated feel that may not be to its advantage. They’re not over the top, but this is probably a song that either needs to be as simple as possible or reworked into a full band number.

Lyrically this is hardly a masterpiece, but there is a charming earnestness to them that captures the exhilarating nervousness you feel right before you tell someone how you feel about them. Some lines are a little heavy handed (My heart is an open wound that only you’d replace) but there are some fairly lyrics to offset it that carry the extra weight a good vocal performance can add (And when the time is right, I Hope that you'll respond /Like when the wind gets tired and the ocean becomes calm or I dream of circles perfect/eyes within your face).

I find myself more excited for the record that I was before. Still not a huge fan of the uke, and I’m not expecting this to find a spot in the upper tier of Pearl Jam releases, but Eddie might have produced a really nice mood record—something to put on when the silent moments in our lives need a little bit of music.