Three years after his debut solo release, Yotam (of Useless ID) is back with a new album, California Sounds. A more stripped down affair than his previous release, this is the sound of growing up, soul-searching and the everyday problems of adulthood. Now I’ve said before that I don’t really listen to much acoustic folk/punk but when done right it perfectly soundtracks your life, jumping between various emotions and states of mind. This is one such album, ideal to just put your headphones on and stare out of the window, watching life go by.
Days Of Living starts the album and immediately draws you in. The upbeat tempo and honesty to both the vocals and guitar bring the song to life. Apparently the album was pretty much recorded live and it benefits from that simplistic approach. Where Is The Time follows a similar theme although slower and more reflective than the opening track.
Title track California Sounds conjures pictures of driving cross-country to get home and has some lovely harmonies on the chorus. No album such as this would be complete without the obligatory break-up song and this doesn’t disappoint with Silver And Gold. The gentle strumming and mournful vocals adding an emotional depth. Relationships feature in the next two tracks too, Platonic, a simple tale of unrequited love and Catastrophe, a cautionary tale of a bad relationship. The former is one of my favourite tracks here as the music ebbs and flows effortlessly as well as containing lyrics that many people will identify with.
Grandfather is a poignant emotive song in which Yotam deals with his grandfather’s fight against cancer. You can really hear the fragility in his voice coming through, especially in the line “it’s too late for me”. Personally, for me this would have been the right place to stop as the last couple of songs, Young Man Bones and Crawling don’t really add anything to the album.
It’s a small complaint really as the rest of the album stands comparison with contemporaries such as Frank Turner, Dallas Green, Laura Jane Grace and more. If you’re a fan of any of these then you’ll find something to like in California Sounds.