A comprehensive review for DJD UK Global Music by artist product and content reviewer John Koudela III (USA) This review is based on 10 tracks and 1 artwork. Published April 04th, 2019.
This piece starts off with ultra-clear guitar string plucking and string vibrations familiar to a country-styled romance of two people deeply in love. Digital piano accompaniment light on reverb with the depth of harpsichord notes drops in with soft supportive percussion, light tap kick drum strikes and quiet snare play. The cabinet is of a medium hall where the chorus is both uplifting and suggestive of the details of the nuances of this enveloping kind of love. You can feel it through the approving humming in the background, the chorus lines and reverberation through each verse. The words are powerful enough to cause a connection to your own captive experiences.
For a moment, I thought I was listening to a tune by the Backstreet Boys specifically the voice of Brian Littrell. Ian Kudzinowski’s vocals throws the listener into an emotional and immersive experience. This song is what I would need to relive such experiences in my own life.
02. One Second
If you could delightfully sing about a breakup no matter the sadness this song would be it! Starts out with steel string guitar strumming followed by fat clean guitar tones and brush drum stick end drops on the snare using it like a beat box metal plate instrument. Later, there are layered keyboards and other supportive instruments. The baritone vocals are heard over the top of the instruments. They are both clean and easy to sing-a-long and grasp the focus of the lyrics: “I won’t call”, “can’t ask, that’s in the past so far removed”, “I had to let it go”, “blind and now I see and now I know”. The words come out strong with a bit of sweetness. It’s a break off one wanted and one didn’t. Isn’t that the way most break offs go?! Love the oooooos behind the verses, echoes of the verses in the distance, and the ending fade of background conversations muddled as if telling secrets and reactions of this event with a friend.
03. Brave This Part
During the difficult times we face it is our closest friends who often sense it, come to us, and reassure us that what we are going through is OK. They ease and comfort us with: “it’s OK to be alone”, “here right by your side”, “don’t be scared of what’s to come”, “don’t you ever be afraid”, “come on let’s brave this part together”. The song starts with spiritual bell-like sounds both up and down, simple and delicate, thin plucked on guitar strings to set the mood to listen openly to the story about to be told. The vocals are tight, full note, softly expressive and angelic from the kind of heart that keeps a deep connection with a very close friend. The verses rally a display of understanding that helps tread a difficult path. And in the end drops off quickly suggesting the two ‘got this’! Beautifully done.
The name of this album is “Conversation History” – a fitting title for thoughts about the hard times in relationships, questions of status, and thoughts of whether or not a relationship will last for a for a long ride into the future. Such issues are sung in this song mixed with voices hard to clearly hear, words (as if coming between friends) that seemingly can’t be made sense of, and a hope, “essentially”, that the desired partner will give into: “all I want, a little you for me”.
Sometimes this is all that is needed to keep from breaking off. Mellow thoughts start along pounding kick thuds, as if from a drum machine, into such relationships: ‘will the relationship we were in start again where if left off’, ‘can we get through what tears us apart’, ‘can we ask that grudges not be prolonged’, but rather “figure our way to behave like two adults”? Expressed further – ‘Our thoughts ought to be from the good parts of our relationship: the tribal excursion where bongos were played’, a chorus with organ brought about to say ‘don’t listen to your friends what they have to say about us’ and ‘just for a moment hold on to our us’. We think – ‘must our thoughts of hope fade after our begging for more?’ Heard are the picking of the guitar strings at this point lingering long enough to imagine this couple can be back together. A sincere, well versed, from the heart that hurts kind of song. It just puts the listener back to those times in their own lives.
05. Baby Boy
Yes, it’s a story about moving on and a thump kick chorus to tell you to stop the whining over a lost relationship. It’s a hick hop melody filled with hard hop rap upon one’s self-imprisonment of whining, lying, crying, “baby boy” missing-out, lack of a grip of one’s estranged state. And isn’t that what’s it’s like to be just beyond a break off realising what you already know: “there’s more than one in his design”! It’s awful and yet “you’re acting like a fool” over it. The despair thumps in your mind like a hard kick drum sound. You hear the guitar introducing the tune over and over again. You hear your friends “he don’t owe you anything”, “you’re thinking all the worse thoughts” and “connecting all the wrong dots”. And you’ll go so far as to say “mirror mirror on the wall” ….and I’m not gonna tell you the rest of what was said. You’ll just have to listen on your own.
06. Conversation History
Thumbing the Kalimba (thumb piano) to set the mood to unfold a memory, as if kept in a diary, of thoughts of whether or not time with another was ripe for a relationship. It’s so often a pipe dream just like a desired fantasy we craft the way we want to see it. As beautiful as it was thinking about it and then the realisation that it was just not strong enough. “Was it wrong to start something with you?”, “should I have known better?” are the thoughts going through our head. How many times have any of us been there? The hoorah music kicks in to uplift the moment of this memory and out pops the most valuable part: “now all we have is this conversation history”, “maybe it’s in my head”. Ian’s voice is open and reaching. There is a sound of sax, percussion and the now and then cymbals just behind the vocals, voices behind barely heard and fade out ending this dreamy relationship. And I get the feeling that in some respects what is in our head is the best of these relationships that’s so good we want it again. A pleasing piece!
Love that sequence of a big fat bass guitar single string pluck followed with a three note pick down from a lead acoustic guitar and back to the next drop down of the bass setting up the melody for the vocals to begin. It’s like the sway of one’s legs moving forward (descending three notes) and the feet trying to kick the leaves outward and to the side (single bass string pluck) to drive a path through. It’s like a relationship that could have been great, but: “You had your chance, you didn’t let me talk”, “if you really cared….’something there’, “two worlds apart”….a ‘mea culpa’ – the acknowledgement of one’s fault. Between the versed thoughts the quiet voices are trying to tell us to “walk away”. But, alas, by some “lucky escape” the hurt isn’t there anymore. What’s evident is that such a person we hoped for were just wasting us – hence, the title “Wasteman”. A powerful message to those wanting what isn’t there in a relationship.
08. Run From Tomorrow
A soft rock tune with an electric lead guitar funk tone start, deep, slowed bass drumming and kick thuds, a pan from left to all the way to the right, and drums to intro the vocals telling a story of wishing for what the relationship once was like before the the reality appears: “coming to trial”, “I’m guessing he has a child”. There is desire for the hope of a return to the dream, the denial, the bliss ….to “run from tomorrow” and “I don’t wanna wake up on the run”. How many times have any of us wished again for those first few times meeting in awe of each other before the details disrupted our vision to the point we wanted to cry out “I don’t wanna have to watch you go”?! This piece is about the process toward breaking away from that awe to recognise “change is worthwhile”, that Buddha, “statue with a smile”, reminds us that life will become good. A most enlightening song for soul searching!
09. The Lie Was True
The music starting out is a bit mellow and glum with a bit of piano tapping notes as if heard off in a corner of a bar as people are intermingling. The band starts to sing, drums kick in, cymbals crash down a few taps, and you can hear the snare played. The singing is almost spiritual. Full music comes in after the first verses, pans left to right and back, organ sounds off like from a NORD keyboard, twists of funk sounding like snapped back coiled chain. And there are the up/down swoops of flat sounds like the centre of a sheet is being blown outward by the wind. And as the dark truth starts to roll out between too conversing in the bar the music becomes a bit boomy and bassy. This song took me awhile to realise the story in the lyrics speaks of how a gay men in a gay bar become interested in each other by recognising colours of handkerchiefs worn in which side pocket (certain colours meant certain sexual or fetish preferences and whether or not the man was dominant (left pocket) or submissive/passive (right pocket)). It’s an old communications code popular in the ‘’60’s and ‘70’s.
There are clues throughout this song indicating the hanky codes and if the conversation is a lie or not. In this case the meeting is full of lies: “have you kissed entrapment waltz”, “now disarm”, “no cards are played”, “now they know you can be harmed” (indicating a black hanky (an S/M interest) worn in the right side pocket). The dominant man crafts the situation: “nowhere to turn, slowly burn, infiltrate, satiate, you’re mine”. However, the further they talk the more one knows the other is lying (not what the hanky codes show). It has become clear “your only hope is in your side pocket” indicating the ruse has been discovered and if the other continues it “could be a life or death decision tho”. No private play is needed to find the truth. No need to be “breaking down your mind”. Well done. Respectful. Will no doubt bring back memories for many who remember that era. Perhaps the best song of the album!
10. Turn on the Lights
There comes a time to realise that all your hard effort to find the person you want to have a good and long relationship with isn’t to be, but rather to wait for the effort by those seeking to find you. And while others may want to console you through your saddened search you know “I’ll be alright, I’ll be OK”, “I’ll love this life”. Yes, there is hope: “if there’s a man, make for me, who comes along, maybe then we’ll see”….a sense from deep in the heart to remain open when that time comes! The thought of wearing a satchel to bring about a conversation toward intimacy will no longer have that meaning. Instead, it will be accepted: “It may seem I’m just chasing something… always had that dream”. The need now only be what has always been a focus: “turn on” my own “lights”. The song starts with a few taps on a metal plate, quickly breaks into the vocals after a down strum of guitar strings, continues with fat thud drumming support, lines of guitar fuzz in the background, occasional snare drumming, vocal humming, and clear, settled emotional words of a self-realisation about one’s position on relationships: that in even the lack thereof still comes a comfortable and desired life.
Artwork Review for Conversation History
An intensely appropriate photo showing the wetness of a wretched, barren and acute clarity of focus, as outlined by each of these songs on this album, about the hope for but lack of landing a dream relationship. The expression as if to say: ‘And yet, as much as I have been thinned out by the experiences on every avenue I have come to accept that light remains at the end of the narrowed tunnel still. I feel grief less for I have realised in my stripped nakedness I am, distinguished, and still open should one find me. I am in another still seeking. And while I wait I will find joy in life moving forward. I will be alright. I am ….OK.’ “Don’t you care, don’t you fret, I’m all capable now then I was back then…”
Credit to Steven Page (UK) who produced the Conversation History album
(c) 2019 John Koudela III (USA) for DJD UK Global Music.