An essential way to craft a resonant piece of music is to unpack the existential pondering, the fleeting but insistent anxieties, the hard truths and easy reminders, that are swimming around up inside the head of the songwriter. The sublimity of Saline-based folk/Americana artist Monticello Van Odom‘s album is in how its spilling out all the difficult or denied rationalizations and sentiments and gives such a liveliness to expressing, lyrically, melodically, the otherwise ineffable.
What puts Van Odom into the company of the likes of modern folk pioneers like Tweedy and the Milk Carton Kids, or even classic troubadors like Neil Young or Cat Stevens, is that the music reflects a certain soulfulness that manifests as anthems for life, for enduring, for evolving. Van Odom writes these songs lucidly from mind, to pen, to page, to guitar, to vocalization, with intent to keep the barrier between Van Odom the man, the father, the family man, the friend, and Van Odom the songwriter, the independent artist – it’s album that diffuses the everyday wears or tears by processing them through guitar, drums, hooks, melody, and forthright words.
This album came out six weeks ago, and if you haven’t heard it yet, it’s a great collection of music to find in the dead of winter–because the overarching theme is that of a kindling of hope. There are pared-back odes with just guitar, vocals, a light brush of drums and a warbling pedal steel, there are percussive and propulsive pop-rock drivers, and there are splendidly mixed tunes like the opener, “Without The Love,” where Van Odom’s dynamics between just his guitar and vocals are so crisp that it makes you lean in, until the second verse begins and a delicate blend of bass, guitar, pedal-steel and drums tenderly crash in… The swells, the crescendos, the cathartic piques and ponderous valleys, they’re all richly rendered here… Take a listen at: https://monticellovanodom.bandcamp.com/releases