Album Review: Good Old War – Come Back As Rain

Good Old War, honestly, is one of the reasons we started this website.  Seriously.  They didn’t even pay us to say that.  Last year, two gentlemen had a conversation in a car about music that we liked.  There were a few bands that flew through the CD player… one was Good Old War.  We still love them that much.  Their latest album Come Back As Rain is truly the evidence of a maturing sound.

That sounds like a condescending and backhanded compliment for a music blogger to write that the band is “maturing.”  As if their early stuff was “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and now they’ve moved onto “Yellow Submarine.”  No, instead, what we mean is to say that these guys… (gasp)… are getting better at what they do.  They’ve always been great at singing together, but Come Back as Rain is evidence of their collaborative songwriting and collective vision on the album itself.  The songs just blend together extremely well.  They cover a range of emotions with the expected Good Old War musical styling.

Let’s not beat around the bush.  “Better Weather” is the best song on the album, with “Loud Love” as a close second.  While “Calling Me Names,” the featured single that’s getting a fair amount of airplay nationwide is pretty good.  If it were any other band, it would be the best song on their album.  The characteristic that has always made Good Old War so good is that it has that Beatles-like poppiness without being annoying.  The whole point of “Calling Me Names” is that moment in a fight when we all, at least the adults, realize that calling names gets nothing done.  When I interviewed Dan Schwartz a few months ago he told me they try to write songs about the moments in between big moments in life.  So… this song is not about the fight itself… it’s about that realization that name calling wouldn’t actually resolve the fight.  See, that’s not a bubble gum pop song, is it?

“Amazing Eyes” is a remarkable song .  Guitar, vocal balance, and unique melody line… it really all comes together.  If you listen carefully, you’ll hear what sounds like an accordion.  How many people, though, can reflect on that moment after staring into someone’s eyes?  “I don’t care what you think I’ve done… I never meant no harm to anyone.”  At first blush it seems a song about genuine love interest, but it really reveals that deep question and doubt when two people first connect.  Fantastic.  More Beach Boys than any of their stuff, it’s a hit song.

“Better Weather” is upbeat and the kind of song that almost everyone can connect with.  If you’ve ever had a bad day, this is your kind of song.  The “ooos” make the song, strangely.  With some fantastic lyrics and brilliant vocals, it’s the “ooos” that does it.  It’s about not reveling in a bad day, but instead looking hopefully toward a better day.  Wow.  Seriously fill your heads with this stuff.  “We’ll pray for some better weather.”  Oh, if you’re wondering what it sounds like… handclaps, ooos, and the 1960s.

The song “Not Quite Happiness” is an emotionally HARD song, but is soft as a pillow on the ears.  The beginning is positively Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young worthy.  “Oh missing everything our hands were tied together… it was not quite happiness, just love, just love, just love.”  Did you catch that?  Read it again.  Not quite happiness… just love.  WOW.  This is the most beautifully raw song I’ve heard in years.  It deserves a spot at the top of song of the year lists regardless of genre.  Seriously this is a stunning song both musically and lyrically.  It makes you think hard and hum along… but then again that’s Good Old War for you.

Followers of Good Old War caught a version of “Loud Love” at live shows and on YouTube over two years ago.  We kept asking ourselves why it was not permanently pressed onto an album.  We finally got our wish.  As I’ve written about the live version, Tim’s vocals absolutely soar on this track.  This is a love song in the absolute purest sense.  “If you love me don’t you let me go… If you love me don’t go.”  The writer of this song wrote out of a deep place and it’s so evident from start to finish.  “High up in the tree you made a nest for me… we made loud love upon the canopy… will you wait for me underneath the sea… can you hold your breath until I’m free?”  Friends those aren’t lyrics; that’s a masterpiece.  The way the words and music blend together is masterfully, truly.

If you haven’t caught on, this is yet another brilliant salvo in the Good Old War discography.  From where I stand it’s a bit better than the sophomore Good Old War album.  It displays a connection between artists… a synergy if you will… that is truly magnificent.  We’re hoping you all will pick up this album.  Acoustic guitar, three incredible voices, and lovable lyrics… Good Old War does it again.

PS- We liked how the band ended with a song called “Present for the End of the World” on an album released in 2012… The Mayans appreciate your humor, gents.

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