Solace is the new album from Philly indie artist A Day Without Love. Brian Walker is the driving force of this project, and has lately found himself quite busy. He’s toured the US, including playing the famous South x Southwest festival in Austin. On top of all that, Brian has managed to release a full length album. Talk about hard work.
A Day Without Love’s debut full length is the culmination of a number of hardships for Walker, and he had this to say about Solace: "This record was the most honest record I wrote, the first record I wrote completely sober, the first record that shared about the most personal demons I have kept inside, and it is the beginning of me finding peace with myself and the problems I face in this world ranging from racism to mental depression. I hope in some way that my message helps you to by listening to this. I dedicate this record to my grandfather William Walker who raised me and passed away during the writing process of this record to Lung Cancer. I will forever remember you Grandpa."
6. It Hurts
7. Constantly Ignored
8. I Hope it Ends One Day
10. Too Fast
11. Never Judge
12. They Don't Want Us To Live
For me, Solace is a mixed bag.
For the first few tracks, I struggled to make a connection to the music. So I took a step back, and took a moment to think about it. I read Brian’s words over again, and carried on with the next song (track 5, “Cruel”). I heard the line “No one cares how you feel, but what you deliver.” Wow. That one stuck with me. Couple that with the fact that the energy picks up a little during this song, and I was starting to get into it.
“Constantly Ignored” was a standout track for me. It’s a bare bones acoustic guitar tune, with Walker singing about being a black man who struggles to find acceptance from his own people. It’s easy to relate to, as many of us have had to face isolation from our peers for one reason or another. Not only that, but the song is followed up by “I Hope it Ends Someday”. That track is a recording of Walker’s grandmother, talking about her feelings on racism in America today (along with a little guitar). These two tracks combine to create a message that I hope can resonate with anyone who listens.
The rest of the album continued to strike a chord with me, lyrically. The only critiques I have of Solace are totally musical in nature. During my listening, I occasionally got the impression that instruments weren’t blending well together. Sometimes I think this was caused by the mix, but sometimes I believe instrumental tracks weren’t totally lining up rhythmically. Most of these moments I think could have been fixed by re-recording a few tracks, but I don’t think it’s a major issue. Once in a while I would notice a flat note in Walker’s vocal performance, but again, nothing too bad.
One place I really think A Day Without Love could improve is in songwriting. When I’m listening to new music, I’m waiting for musical moments that jump out of my headphones and scream “Isn’t that cool?!” This can be accomplished in a number of ways, whether it be through an interesting melody, an unexpected chord progression, a surprising rhythm, or a hundred million other things. I was a little disappointed to find Solace lacking in these moments.
Now, I’m not cruel, and I can’t let myself end a review on such a negative note. So I will say that Solace is certainly worth your time, Brian Walker has a lot to say, and he’s very good at saying it. As with anything, practice makes perfect, and I hope for his next release Walker is able to hone his songwriting skills just a little bit; he won’t have any problem standing out from the crowd after that.
You can catch A Day Without Love live at Ortlieb's in Philly on October 15th for a full band record release show!