One of the core themes weaving throughout Geoffrey Louis Koch's latest album is this: it is an in-depth exploration of dichotomy and paradox; of power and poverty, of love and loss, euphoria and suicide. 'Follow The Voices' is a declaration of the existential struggle to accept and allow that all ruthless and awful things must exist for their opposite to have meaning. Quests like these are often solitary and spiritual in nature. Their paths are guided by intuition, or 'Voices' - which are the subtle yet revealing truths one must travel by to arrive safely.
'Gold Dust' shines as the opening love song. A 4th of July metaphor is used as a snapshot in time for any number of youthful passionate moments. The held breath waiting for a fireworks to explode, and the painted picture of the moment before someone is overcome with the intense desire to touch another - these heartfelt and vulnerable human experiences are found throughout Geoffrey's catalog and are a central strength of his writing style.
'It's A Beautiful Day To Wake Up' puts the album's 'car' in gear, so to speak. The chorus kick drum in this 'traveling song' evokes images of sweeping past mile markers and telephone poles in some great expanse in the American Southwest. The emotional summit of the record is reached in the third song.
'The Storm' is an homage to the Southern Comfort documentary by Kate Davis (an LGBT love story) that profoundly influenced Geoffrey, combined with his own autobiographical experiences with lost love and struggle to be understood and accepted. It's the tale of someone who has been beaten and ravaged by disappointment, injustice, and loss who ultimately must decide whether to choose to pick themselves up, accept the past and find a way to move on - or stay down, surely to be consumed by the enormity of it. If Geoffrey were to have a songwriting 'masterwork' - this is it.
'Burn It Down' is in the wake of the 'storm'. A serious and haunted number, the early metaphor for 'straight edge' searching for the moral equivalency between punk rock's 'freedom' versus flirtation with cutting/suicide's 'freedom' sets the ominous and complex tone from the beginning. Any revenge or anger by the storyteller is tempered by the realization that whatever kind of hell he's in - even he knows there's no getting out of it.
'Colorblind' is the final song on the record. Originally done by Counting Crows. A sound pad provides the dreamy belly of the song, undulating in and around the fingerpicked notes of the acoustic guitar. Similar to many other moments on this record - 'Colorblind' is a reflective and beautiful piece. The delicate and subtle hopefulness, though, are eagerly attached to and end the record on a note of achievement, completion, and rest.
The characters in 'Follow The Voices' raise questions, and oftentimes leave them unresolved - an artful and challenging tactic also seen in Geoffrey's last full-length record, 'If It Feels Good, Don't Do It'. Although colorful - these abstract and sometimes brush-stroked lyrics encourage the listener find the answer for themselves. (Nowhere on this record more evident than in 'The Storm'..) And in that way, the listener has been given the gift of co-author - the power to choose the conclusion.
To be sure - 'Follow The Voices' is 'a stunning and triumphant collection of folk songs set to a symphony orchestra'. But beyond the 'quick hit' blurb and '140 characters or less' talking points - this art was created to communicate with and befriend those listeners who feel guided and compelled by their own quiet intuition. Embrace these "Voices" - follow them, and trust the map they give you.
Recorded at SiloTREE Studio in St. Louis, MO
Mixed and produced by Ross Christopher and Geoffrey Louis Koch
Mastered by Matthew Thomas Odmark at Original Masters
Photography by Laura E Partain
Design by Kelcy D Wilburn
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica: Geoffrey Louis Koch
All Other Sounds: Ross Christopher
All songs by Geoffrey Louis Koch (ASCAP) except "Colorblind" by Counting Crows, EMI-Blackwood Music Inc. (BMI)
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