Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.
– Miles Davis
Indeed it is. And we will get to the importance of time in a little bit, while discussing The People The Poet’s excellent new album A Short Obsession With Time, but let’s first take a look at what I’ve written about the two singles preceding the new record:
Where The Dandelions Roar
If you want to find out what the Billboard Top 200 should sound like instead of what it actually sounds like, give this track a spin. With their new single The People The Poet send out a clear message to anyone listening: The age of rock’n’roll is far from over as long as they are around. And hopefully, that’s a long, long time. Read full write up...
Kids On The Corner
With yet another outstanding single, The People The Poet are raising the bar for modern rock songs even higher. It’s high enough now for their peers to start sweating but presumably still low enough for them to completely and utterly floor us with their next offering. I don’t know about you but I can hardly wait to hear it. Read full write up...
And you know what? A Short Obsession With Time is a fantastic collection of songs that is truly worth the wait. It’s just as good as I had hoped it to be – in parts even better. It continues where “Kids On The Corner” and “Dandelions” left off and offers ten new brilliant tracks that will make you smile, cry and most importantly, fall in love with rock’n’roll all over again. And as you might expect, this album is filled with meaningful stories, infectious melodies, great arrangements and obviously, incredible vocals.
Here’s what the group says about their new album:
You count on your parents, family and friends until one day some of them are gone and you find yourself counting the days and years since they left. The album comes to the conclusion that in seizing the moment each day, all will be good in the end.
Unlike the two singles preceding the album, the central theme on A Short Obsession With Time is not limited to childhood. Rather, it’s an album that deals with the elusiveness of time from the perspective of maturing and aging. It’s funny, the older we get the more preoccupied with time we become – maybe because with each passing day, we have less and less of it. When you are young, you can afford to waste a year; when you get older, every day starts to count. My seventy-year old friend just stated that he loves birthdays but hates the fact that he has already celebrated most of them. On that note, I cannot believe that I’ll be fifty in five years’ time. I remember I used to think that fifty-year-olds are old; it turns out I still do. Unfortunately, fountains of youth only exist in movies (if you haven’t, watch Cocoon from the 1980s – it’ll put a smile on your face).
Having said that, I’ve come to understand that there is magic in each different phase of life, and this is what A Short Obsession With Time reminds us of. While we might feel nostalgic for our past from time to time, tomorrow’s always an exciting, new opportunity – even for old fogies. The thing that The People The Poet does exceptionally well on their new offering is that they approach the concept of aging and maturing from many different perspectives. While the album’s superb opening track “Where Did The Year Go” points out that time runs too wild for us to ever truly catch up with it and the two above-mentioned singles make us long for our childhood, “This Is Our Time” kicks us in the ass and says: “Seize the moment, don’t let the moment seize/Stop with all this begging and get up off your knees.” Granted, this is tough love but a much needed shot of realism to those of us who dwell too much in the past.
Mind you, “This Is Our Time” is a perfect example of how strong the non-single tunes on the album are. The swinging drums that begin the song, its infectious chorus (with a plea to “live on the edge”), Stanford’s playful vocals, the brilliant vocal harmonies, some of the best guitar work I’ve heard in a while and a bass that enhances the groove perfectly make you once again realize the artistic depth of this group. Strangle enough, “This Is Our Time” is a track that almost didn’t see the light of day. Says Tyla Campbell:
For me, the fondest but at the same time most frustrating memory about writing the album was the song “This Is Our Time.” The original song was completely different to what it eventually turned out to be. We finished writing it and we just thought it didn’t sound right and didn’t sound like us, so we decided to scrap the song completely and start again from scratch. I can’t really remember how we came about this new version but it just seemed so natural to us and I think it was definitely the right thing to do, to rewrite the song!
And to be fair, I could have focused on nearly any other track on this album. Seriously, there are no fillers. Don’t take my word for it, listen to the album. And as you do, answer this: isn’t “Love Will Find You In The End” just about the best album closer ever? Remembers Leon Stanford:
Seeing the progression of the song “Love Will Find You In The End” come together was special for me as it was a song I’d played around with in my bedroom. I’m no guitarist but over the last two years I’ve mucked about with a guitar to a poor level but a level just about good enough to write a basic shell. I’d have the verse and the chorus melody over the verse and I’d play it on loop for a while. When the boys started to put their own signature on it, it really started to take shape and really complemented the lyrics and helped tell the story. By the end of the song, we’d all given something: keys, sax, the lot. It’s like taking a walk down a long road and meeting people along the way and them telling their story through their instrument and by the time you reach the end you know you could go on and on in that moment where everyone’s throwing everything at it.
While this track will soothe your mind, the Springsteenish “Beddau Boys” and the Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers-inspired “Not From This Town” will rock you to the ground. And I do rate “Ruins Of Rome” as one of the best acoustic ballads of the past few years – some outstanding guitar playing here by Tyla Campbell.
The thing that sets these Welsh rockers apart from their peers is their ability to keep it real. Don’t get me wrong, A Short Obsession With Time is, for all intents and purposes, a produced album. However, it hasn’t been sweetened to the point that quite a few modern rock albums are – you know, to the point where the music and the performances just become too cute and calculated. The People The Poet are very smart in that while they flirt with the opportunities modern technology has to offer, they are still able to keep their feet on the ground and stay loyal to their own sound. A Short Obsession With Time might be slightly more polished than their debut The Narrator but at heart they are one and the same: band-driven, intelligent rock records.
Before I close, I want to take a moment to reflect on the concept of time a little more. Time really makes no sense to any of us when we are kids. I remember once, as a very small boy, asking my grandmother if she had ever been a child. My grandmother started laughing. And when she saw my puzzled face she laughed even more. I demanded to know why she was laughing. She stroked my hair and said, “Oh my goodness, darling! Did you really think that I was born like this: gray hair, all wrinkled, arthritis, false teeth, bad breath and a stiff back!” She continued to laugh from the bottom of her heart, got up, took my hand and walked me into the kitchen to have some lunch.
You can learn more about The People The Poet here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.