Jason Reeves’ album ‘The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache: And Other Frightening Tales’ is an enjoyable but dichotomous work of art that oscillates between structural depth and lyrical superficiality.
The music itself is atmospheric and contains just enough originality to be pleasing. Reeves’ voice is comparable to Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, and has the same whiny-but-gentle harmonious quality. The music itself is distinctly different, and has something of an earnest, pleading tone. Most of the songs are slow-paced and can, at times, become borderline emo along the lines of Green Day and Simple Plan. Fortunately Reeves never crosses over into this genre, but he does mix it up a bit with songs like ‘Gasoline,’ which is reminiscent of British rock group Keane’s fast-paced piano ensembles.
However, the album distinctly lacks any lyrical complexity. The listener is taken through a world of desperate love and tragic loss, with little grey area and even less originality. The songs are easily identifiable: infatuation, angry loss, romantic success and so on. The lyrics would serve a pre-teen crowd wonderfully, and the maturity of the music itself serves to create a striking juxtaposition. This is most evident in ‘The Fragrant Taste of Rain,’ which is obviously intended to be more of a poem with scant musical supplementation rather than an actual song. Much of it is an amateurish attempt at providing linguistically colorful descriptions of love, and while it succeeds sporadically, it is drowning in its failures.
Finally, the album can be a little too consistent. Many of the songs sound like something everyone has heard a thousand times before, even if it’s something everyone has also consistently enjoyed. While this is disheartening for some, it may be irrelevant for others. And it does serve one good purpose, as it causes the true gems to stand out. While ‘The Fragrant Taste of Rain’ is lyrically disappointing, it stands alone as an interesting hybrid of some a cappella, piano ensemble and even a few seconds of electronica. ‘New Hampshire,’ is also a wonderful example of a well-rounded song, and these few gems are reason enough alone to keep an eye on the career of Jason Reeves.
In sum, ‘The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache: And Other Frightening Tales’ is definitely an album that should be enjoyed ‘- just try not to pay attention to the actual words.