Album Review: Good Old War – Part of Me

If you’ve ever read my bio on here, you’ll note that Good Old War is listed as one of my major influences. In fact, it was one of the bands that created the blog at the start. Casey Karger (the cofounder) and I were in the car when we shared Good Old War and Fleet Foxes. That was where it all began. Suffice it to say when I learned that Tim was back with GOW and they had new music out, I was eager to jump in. If you’re looking for a thesis here it is: This is a great new album from GOW and it reminds me of their 2010 self titled album in the best way possible.

The opener “The River” has those characteristic open vocals that we’ve always loved from GOW. I can’t wait to sing along to this one at the shows live. It has that same swinging vibe that have made GOW famous over the years. “I think we’re doing just fine,” the key lyric, is also consistent with a lyrical optimism that we’ve grown accustomed to.

“Part of Me” is a bit more contemplative. There’s even some slide guitar on this one, creating an atmospheric vibe that we don’t always get with them. The sound is deeply satisfying, allowing Keith’s vocal to soar as he does. Some of the melodic turns on this track can really only be done by the Good Old War sound. It’s one of those songs that reminds me why I fell in love with them to begin with. Seriously this will join the pantheon of great GOW music.

The following “Only a Number” kicks up the tempo again. So this song is unique in that it uses counting as a sort of structural device to talk about a romantic relationship. It’s impossible not to think of “One” by Three Dog Night, even if the song is stylistically nothing like it. The song itself is a bit more like a different iconic 70s band, Fleetwood Mac. It’s really interesting and will have you listening closely.

“How Did You Find Me?” feels like a George Harrison song. The song has both guitar and creative melodic lines at its core. The questioning style with the melodic runs really feels like a time warp. Who writes music like this anymore? It’s complex and moving. “Tell me it’s okay to cry.” The emotional and complicated substance of this song really defies description. You just need to hear it.

The final track “Oak Tree” feels like it comes too soon. Of course the guys are hard at work writing music, but gosh will you want about a bajillion more songs when you get to this one. The handclapping goodness is perfect for the kind of environment that their shows has. Seriously “Oak Tree” is about wanting to be with someone forever and is perfectly written to close out a sing-along Good Old War show. It is equal parts gospel and hoe-down, a joyful combination to be sure.

In short, I love this little album. Sometimes it’s risky to hear “new music” from your favorite bands. What if they’ve done some sort of spirit-finding thing and have stopped making the music I love? Well Good Old War did not betray us. They made an album that continues the main themes of love and harmony that define their brand and I can’t wait to sing along with the boys to these tunes soon!

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