Album Reaction: Smalltown Poets NWxSE

I’m going to start a new series of posts where I listen to an album for the first time and share my initial thoughts about it.  It is only fitting that my first one will cover the newest album from one of my all time favorite bands, Smalltown Poets; their album NWxSE released today. While I have heard a couple of the songs ahead of time, today was the first time I was able to listen to the full album.

One of my favorite things about following these guys for 25 years and being first in line to listen to everything that they’ve released is hearing the familiar in their ever changing sound.  Their debut self-titled release was my favorite album of 1997.  As excellent as that album was, some how they topped it with each subsequent release.  It’s like I grew up with their music, and in turn their music grew up with me.

Over the last few years, I’ve had the privilege to meet up with them a few times and can honestly say that they’ve become friends.  It’s wild to me that I get to say that.  One of the moments that I had in 2019 at one of their Christmas shows was getting to hear an almost finished version of Love is the Ocean and I was immediately blown away by it.  I’ve been listening to it so much ever since, and I was happy to see that it moved from being a single to a track on this album.

On this initial listen through, I’m hearing familiar brilliant song writing surrounded by new sounds.  I’m a huge fan of how “See the Future” builds into the chorus and eventual bridge that has my favorite lyric of the song “See the future for yourself or repeat tomorrow.”  Believe Me has my favorite lyric of the album so far. “And You’re already here made of wonder and fear; put your hand in the air and take your chances. If it’s a matter of doubt and if you want to weigh out try something now and just believe me”

The album is full of fun moments and sounds, but none more so than Monaco.  Just an upbeat rock song with great guitar sounds.  “100 Ways” is classic Poets.  “The love you gave over and over; all the words you followed through; out of a hundred glimpses came the one you.” Just beautiful and I got chills the last chorus to close the song.

The album ends on the beautifully haunting “27.”  The simple piano playing and Michael Johnston’s voice over it singing “hide me away and hold me so I can sing hallelujah now”. “Sing over me” indeed. 

I’m so glad to have these guys in my life, putting out music that speaks deeply to me still.  My life’s journey musically and spiritually would be so incomplete without them.  Thank you Michael, Danny, Kevin, Byron, and Miguel for continually sharing your gifts with us.  Please follow the link below and find NWxSE at your favorite music listening outlet.