Ronnie Day, The Album

Ronnie Day, The Album

A funny thing happens to me when I review the albums editor-guy Jeremy sends me. I’m an old stodger, hate everything that came out after Lateralus, believe music is terrible right now, etc., etc. So I invariably start every session with a new album with a set of notes that includes gems like:

“Holy fucking hell, these are terrible lyrics.”
“_____ might be worst song I have ever heard.”
“I used this douchebag’s CD cover for a coaster.”

Then something happens. I sit down with a drink (or six) and really, really listen. Sometimes my first impressions are correct (a review of my reviews(?) will let you know when I was correct), but most of the time, I’m wrong. Really wrong.

Ronnie Day’s The Album is a chronological disaster; not in a Memento sort of way, but in a terrible-iceberg-crashing sort of way, like those relationship disasters that seem to happen in slow motion where you can see the impact, see the ribs of the hull snapping, the prow folding, and, depending on the size of the vessel, the drama of each individual making his own decision: stay on the ship, or jump in and hope.

The Album is Day’s heart all over the tape, all over these songs, a story arc starting with the euphoria of a perfect love and life ending with a new understanding of self following a painfully graphic evisceration by his first love. We hear the shock and disbelief, the resignation, and finally the anger and recovery. Every song is written to tell this story, verbose and detailed and perfectly designed to capture the full palate of emotions Day lived during his personal hell and redemption.

The album is broken into four parts, with inserts that are essentially narrative: “Insert 1” separates the euphoria of new love in the first three songs from the second act, where he finds out that his love has dumped him for a drunk at a party, while “Insert 3” presages the almost inevitable internal conversation that we all have when our ex comes crawling back. Do you take them back, or kick them to the curb and move on?

Almost every song is well crafted, but three stand out as signposts along the way. “Half Moon Bay” is all cuddly fuzziness, road trips and smooching in the back seat, a summer of youth when the world is perfect and nothing matters other than your own happiness and future. “Written at a Rest Stop” is brilliant, one of two masterpieces on the album. The other, “Outside,” is honest and vicious, for all the gushiness in the first half of the album, lyrics like, “It must be hard living in a castle / counting daddy’s monies must be a hassle / proudly you can’t abide.” Day reflects every man’s feeling, the wounded animal, slashing back wildly with claws hidden from the world when everything is clicking.

On the other hand, “Lived, Learned, Loved and Lost” is the weakest song on the album, when it should pack the most punch for where it is in the story (he sees his girl kissing someone else). An opportunity missed.

“Falling For You” is the final trap, where the failed partner calls to have dinner with expected confusion — Day knows she has failed, and he has learned from the experience, but is worried that she will suck him back in. As a comforting climax, “Past Through” (a workable pun within the context of the album): is it about a new girl? Is it reminiscence? I think the latter, since he says:

“I’m a lucky soul to have these memories /
I will always hold them as a part of me /
Live your life, I hope you find meaning”

No reconciliation there.
I think I need another drink.

(The Militia Group -- 235 E. Broadway Suite 708, Long Beach, CA. 90802; http://www.themilitiagroup.com/; Ronnie Day -- http://www.myspace.com/ronnieday)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, June 1st, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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