Concept albums typically deal with a topic or an idea, but what if you took a style of music and decided to make an album? Ask The Likes Of Us, a duo of Benj Heard and Katrina Stone, who realized a musical connection over 40s love songs and thought that it was the perfect way to create a sound and an album. The Likes of Us is an ambitious project, one that is both unique and feels like an old vinyl that your grandparents wore out 50 years ago. It’s a project that promises something from the past and delivers in every way possible.
In Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman sings, “Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.” This album is a lot like Ewan McGregor replying, “Well, what’s wrong with that” I’d like to know.” These songs, their music and lyrics, are some of the most upbeat, happy, love songs you could find. Not only that, but this album captures a bunch of different kinds of love in its lyrics and many different styles of music as well. It’s a brilliantly crafted album (and it’s free!).
The album starts with “No Cure For Love”, a song about how love makes you feel. It’s a sweet upbeat song, led by a great bass line. We’ve all felt that moment when you’re falling in love with someone and you feel like you’re losing control of your emotions, for better or worse, and this song captures it perfectly. The doctor says, “Your affliction is affection./ You’ve fallen in love for sure./ Ain’t no prescription for what you mention./ I’m sorry, but there’s no cure for love.” Another great upbeat track, this time utilizing the ukulele, is “Love Like This”. While all these songs are a little cliche, they sound honest nonetheless. This track is about how you always want another minute with the person you love and realizing that the love you feel is rare. “Love like this comes once in a lifetime, once every thousand years./ Just one more kiss could lead back to this night, back to you, my dear.”
“Smooth Movin'” is a little bit country and a little bit swing. It’s a conversation between a man and a woman about a dance and it’s great. “Lovesick” has a tradition 1940s sound with a piano and some soft drums. “Dream a Little Dream of Me” is also a traditional song, a song that would be a great fit for a first dance. It’s about being far apart from each other and still feeling the love that keeps people together. “Stars faded, but I linger on dear.”
There are two stand out tracks on the album. The first is “More Than Friends”, a self explanatory song about wanting to be, you guessed it, more than friends. What’s beautiful about this song is the interplay between the two sets of vocals. It’s from the perspective of both people in the situation and that makes it mean something different. “I wanna be more than friends,/ because you’re complicating the mood I’m in.” It’s a simple line with more meaning than you hear on first listen. The second, and best track, on the album is “My Oh My”, a ukulele led song that features some great vocal work from the backing choir and the way the lines alternate between singers is a perfect way to write this song. When the Stone sings “But I’m afraid to fall in love” and Heard replies “You don’t have to worry, dear, cause I’ll give you a shove,” you realize the group’s talent for writing simple lyrics that perfectly captures an emotion and feeling.
The Likes of Us is just two people writing music that means something to them and it shows. The band has created an album full of love songs that, while not for everyone, are certainly perfect for some people. Take the time to listen to and enjoy these songs and you’ll find yourself singing along even if you’re more cynical than these two musicians.