We open up with "32.63N 117.14W" which, before you try and read that as a word (I know some of you will) is a set of coordinates leading you directly to Silver Strand beach, the location of the car from the aforementioned old album cover...at just over a minute long it's merely an introduction; you can hear the sea on the shore, heavy breathing, and the car starting up with the radio tuning in (He's alive after all!) and it leads into first track proper "Leaving It Behind"...it's got some light tapping percussion over some simple, overlapped and looped electric guitar, almost on edge, as if uncertainty had a sound of it's own...while vocally Vincent Cavanagh draws his notes out with a certain drone, sounding lost, balancing the growing vigor of the music brilliantly...this is a superb start.
The tender vocals of Lee Douglas drape themselves over a sweet piano lead opening and she sings of hope (maybe the woman from the photo) as the track builds in intensity, rising and rising toward a powerful crescendo soaked in longing and musically this will easily appeal to fans of say, THE JOY FORMIDABLE, while the title track, quite contrary to it's very meaning sounds incredibly sullen...it's despairing as our character speaks of needing to run away. Again, utilizing the slow-build, it's an incredibly dramatic song, transcending beyond mere album content, this is lavish, this is art and it's simply wonderful. "San Francisco" continues on our characters journey as an instrumental piece and does a good job of capturing an essence of hustle and bustle of the big city; pacey, frenetic but still structured, like society itself, ending with the sound of trains, suggesting long-distance travel (He really is on the run isn't he!) before lead single "Springfield" takes us to our characters destination. Tortured and emotional, a powerful track asking "How did I get here?!" (By train? It took you three days...leaving San Francisco Civic Center, heading to the Richmond Transit Station, from there, all the way to Chicago Union Station, before the final leg of the journey to Springfield, Massachusetts...THREE DAYS!)
The story continues through further tracks such as the up-beat "Can't Let Go" and then finally closing on the 11 min+ epic "Back To The Start" but, I won't delve into them so much, this IS a story at the end of the day and, well you don't want spoilers do you? I'll let you discover that for yourself...all you need to know is that this album, despite being based on something so incredibly vague and simple has flourished and really, blossomed into an outstanding collective piece of music. It's always a gamble writing a concept album, especially on an idea so seemingly meaningless, but when the music is this good, no one dare complain. Just like the character here, you need, no, you HAVE to be an optimist ahead of this release, I promise you this, you won't be disappointed. On a side note, for those wondering...his train journey cost him upwards of $400...