When I say I like folk music it is because, more than anything else, I like lyrics. So when I receive an album labeled folk I have certain expectations. With the exception of Banhart, I don't take kindly to nonsensical mumbo jumbo song writing. My other gripe is this singer-songwriter genre aka bland songs about why you ain't getting regular oral sex or love...mostly about love.
Of course, none of these criticisms can be lodged against Eugene Francis Jr; I just woke up in an armchair surrounded by cheap beer; with the shopping network trying to sell me something that looked like a sex aid but turned out to be a gas powered candle. My eyelids were pretty heavy and the flame wasn't lit. Again, nothing to do with EFJ, who releases his latest album, The Golden Beatle, on 28th April 2008.
The album art is pretty cool, depicting EFJ as a Native American riding on the back of a dog while being hunted by a gang of men and hounds. To explain what is at first glance an absurd piece of art, EFJ has Native American and Eskimo blood and he loves his dog.
The biggest criticism I have against The Golden Beatle is I've heard it all before, a great singing voice and ability to play instruments are no substitute for original content. My favourite song on the album is 'Poor Me', with the lines like 'I favour tigers but I celebrate cowards' followed quickly by 'don't want a world where religion is power'. What can I ; I am a sucker for any hint of atheism in a song. However the best line in this song and the entire album is, '...it's not a story where boy meets a girl, more like a story boy encounters world'. For this line alone I am grateful.
I could relate to 'Mistakes I Have Made', by all accounts a breakup song. While the songs isn't a gritty hard hitting attack on the girl (or guy) who smashed your heart into a thousand pieces before running off with some singer in a second-rate band; it is a pretty decent song about the fear that the mistakes made in one relationship may echo in all future relationships.
The theme of mistakes continues in the next song, 'My Own Pollution'. To me this is a song about the human condition, dealing with the thoughts and feelings that make us all human. It's an optimistic piece, set to a nice electronica tune.
Another track on the album is Kites. I'll admit I looked up the word 'Kites' in google, hoping for a less obvious definition. As an interesting piece of trivia, the name Kites was "applied to the goddesses Isis and Nephthys in the Osirian cult but also represented women who were hired to accompany or greet the coffins of the deceased at funerals (professional mourners)". Disappointingly, this is a song about actual kites or the metaphor of a kite representing the freedoms and failures of life. Strangely, the song then moves on to use a metaphor of a river to represent a similar idea.
All-in-all, Golden Beatle contains exactly what you would expect from this sort of album, the passing references to love, a mention of poetry and some witty lyrics (Or, at least, I think it was wit; my witdar hasn't really worked since I watched the 1997 pirate comedy, Captain Butler). It won't change your life. It won't really teach you anything you didn't know about yourself. It just sounds pretty nice.