When a passionate, talented artist finds another and things click, it’s kismet. That good fortune over the last three years has led songwriter Chris Dreyer and guitarist Scott Taylor to create some amazing music as the band Goodbye Picasso in New York City a few years ago. The band’s first album is The Book of Aylene (TBoE), which releases August 24, 2010.
TBoE tells the story about a musician who gets the girl, gets a great gig, and starts the downward spiral of drugs, relationships, and finally – losing the gig. Thankfully I was told this isn’t autobiographical in nature, which is awesome. In an age of overly engineered albums, it’s nice to find a concept album that is simply that… a concept seen through the arc of a series of tracks.
I’m positive there are many influences on the record, but as I listened I was reminded of groups from the 1970s, like Van Morrison and Simon & Garfunkle. The country influences aren’t far behind either, especially in the last song – “The Devil, The Bottle, and Me.” The hand of a storyteller was hard at work throughout the album, with a simplicity and honesty in words and melody providing a deep landscape upon which to layer some sweet instrumentals.
Though I love the faster, more upbeat or bluesy tunes on the album more than the ballads, the mixture meant styles changed across the album to reflect the tone of particular songs through the story arc. Everything from a rockin’ blues tune to acoustic strings and almost a wild west sounding piano can be heard as the tales progress and he falls further down the rabbit hole…
My favorite song on the entire album is the nearly drunken blues song “I Don’t Want Nothin'” with some riffs between saxophones and lead electric guitar that just sell the lyrics that much more. The musician is losing his girl, and he knows it. “Don’t call me superstitious when I catch you watching her / With your dirty little secrets of the places that you were / And you can play it cool / Or act the fool / It all looks well rehearsed / You’ve been talking me in circles, as if somehow I’ve not heard…”
But songs like “Lick the Thumb, Turn the Page” really define the struggling artist’s goal to find a way to be discovered playing gigs in some small town. “My drummer’s friend’s in A&R / He seems to think we could go far / It’s much harder than it sounds / Being no one in this town…” Playing to and for people through those initial years, “All these evenings that I’ve spent / with all these people I’ll forget…” The virtual blur of names, faces, places, and gigs has to wear on a musician’s soul.
[amazon-product align=”right”]B003V5C6SA[/amazon-product]And “The Song That Says Goodbye” tells the story when the musician really figures out that he’s losing it as things start falling apart. This is a ballad, almost. But it sounds more like he’s making excuses for himself until the end of the song, when he realizes he’s slipped too far and maybe his girl should keep her distance… “I kept on accusing everyone else / For these consistent bruises I gave myself / Is it real when you realize no wealth? / And you were best off losing with someone else…”
I could go on all day writing about these songs and the words therein. The tales embedded capture the manic cycle and downfall of a musician losing his battle with fame and fortune. When you add the beautiful musical compositions and soulful vocals, TBoE reaches a whole new level of introspection and sorrow as the musician hits rock bottom.
If you are looking for something new – something truly artistic and enjoyable from a group we should all get to know better – be sure to check out Goodbye Picaso’s The Book of Aylene when it’s released on August 24, 2010. It’s going to be a hard album to follow up after the invevitable national and world tours that will follow. I only hope that the band doesn’t read their own lyrics and start down this path of self destruction!
For more information about the band, their touring schedule, and lyrics for The Book of Aylene, be sure to check out GoodbyePicasso.com.
This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.