self-titled debut release. Now John Brodeur is continuing the project with a new album, Lagoon, which features several special guests, including Aimee Mann, Jim Hoke and Jody Stephens. All the material is original, written by John Brodeur. And as was the case with the first album, the lyrics on this release are excellent.
The first line that John Brodeur sings on this new album is “I ought to tell you, I’m kind of mess.” That’s a great opening line. It’s a disarming line that many of us can completely relate to, and so we are ready to take this journey with him, whatever it may be. He then continues: “Live through the day just to get to the next/Can’t return calls, never mind send a text/The monster inside, it don’t get any rest.” We’re only thirty seconds into the album, and John Brodeur has us completely drawn in. “Next thing you know, you’re afraid to exist.” Soon he promises himself he’ll do his best to dig his way out, and the song kicks in. On this track, titled “Sleeper Agent,” Ed Harcourt plays piano and bass, Michael Lockwood is on electric guitar, Blair Sinta is on drums, and Patrick Warren is on strings and keys. It unexpectedly becomes a strangely beautiful song. We continue in uncertain territory with “Machine.” Sure, this one has more of a solid rock vibe, but here he sings, “This morning I was on a tear/Talking to the wall/Like there was someone there/But you vanished into thin air/Like a passing thought/Or a condemned man’s prayer.” He is clearly haunted by someone. And of course I appreciate the Shakespeare reference in those lines (a combination of lines from Othello and The Tempest). Jody Stephens plays drums on this track. You likely know him from his work in Big Star. John Davis plays electric guitar and pedal steel guitar, while Patrick Sansone is on bass, piano, organ, percussion and backing vocals. This is a strong number.
“Burnout” begins by listing the different situations in which he gets high, covering nearly everything before too long. I have known people like that, who were high basically all the time. “I get high and say goodbye to all my cares in the world.” It’s understandable, particularly in the current atmosphere, but sad, because it seems like they’re so disconnected from things (which I suppose is also part of the appeal). The song’s title should you give a clear indication of the attitude toward getting high constantly. “I get high before I fly, and I get high in bed/I get high to satisfy the depression in my head.” And the line that really stands out is, “I get high and I wonder why nothing gets me high.” This song also taps into the feeling of loneliness experienced by so many people. Jon Radford plays drums on this track, and Patrick Sansone is on bass, piano, synthesizer and percussion. That’s followed by “The Document,” which has a gentler acoustic sound. This one also has strong opening lines: “I know you don’t want to talk/But I’ve got so much to say/Please don’t hang up the phone/These days I feel like hell/Looking for something to blame/All this time I should have known.” It’s a song about the end of a relationship, and features a good and moving vocal performance. “Forever was shorter than I thought it would be/Maybe dreams only come true in dreams.” Jim Hoke joins John Brodeur on this track, adding some wonderful work on both bass flute and clarinet. John Brodeur follows that with another song about a relationship that could be ending, “Let You Down,” in which he sings, “You just wanted me to say I’m sorry/Okay, I’m sorry/Can we get back together now.” I love his delivery of “I don’t want to let you go/But I don’t want to let you down,” the sincerity of the lines, the fear in them, and the passion. This track also features a really cool instrumental section at the end. Zach Jones plays drums on this track, and Oscar Albis Rodriguez plays bass, slide guitar, piano, mellotron and synthesizers.
“Leave No Trace” has a different vibe right from the start, in large part because of the presence of sitar. This is one of the album’s most intriguing tracks. I love that repeated guitar hook. At one point he sings “Maybe today I won’t fuck up everything,” a good mantra on some days. “In an alternate reality, I cast no ripples in the sea/No one ever saw my face/Get out quiet, leave no trace.” The pedal steel work by Jim Hoke also contributes to the unusual atmosphere of this track. This is one of my favorites. It is haunting, but in an unusual way. That’s followed by “SF 1993,” which has a mellower vibe as it starts. This song looks back as he waits for a lover he hasn’t seen in a long time. “It’s been a minute since the days of making love all afternoon/And I’m still making it up as I go along/Maybe a few more years would do us good/But I’m afraid to say that’s all we’ve got.” This track then suddenly kicks in with a dramatic force. “Let go of the history.” Then “Ambulance” begins with a good beat, and when it kicks in it has a harder rock sound. “This is not a victory/This is not a victory/This is not a victory.”
“Disappearing Act” features a horn section, with Matt Owens on trumpet and Steven Salcedo on saxophone. And it has another great opening line, one that made me laugh aloud the first time I heard it: “Things were more predictable when I was a drunk.” But this is a serious and honest number about the abuse of alcohol, and using it to lose oneself, with lines like “Spend all my time making enemies of the only friends I’ve got” and “Can’t think about the future when you want to leave it all behind.” It features a passionate vocal performance. I also like Todd Caldwell’s work on organ. That’s followed by “On Fire,” which has a more intimate feel, with John Brodeur joined only by Patrick Warren on strings. It’s a beautiful track. Then Aimee Mann joins him on bass for “Unkind,” a song that takes on a confessional tone from its opening lines, which are: “I have been most unkind/I have paid you no mind/I have been reckless and obscene/With a devil in my eye/And that ain’t something I want to be remembered by.” This track features one of the album’s best vocal performances, and some more wonderful work on strings. John Sands plays drums on this track. This is another of my personal favorites. The album concludes with “Go Free,” which has a brighter sound. “I wish you all the good things in this life/’Cause you’re a queen/Baby, go free.”
CD Track List
- Sleeper Agent
- The Document
- Let You Down
- Leave No Trace
- SF 1993
- Disappearing Act
- On Fire
- Go Free
Lagoon is scheduled to be released on November 4, 2022.