Album Review: Seth Glier, “The Next Right Thing”

Seth Glier

Editors note: this article is part 2 of a 3 part series reviewing indie record label MPress Records’ 2011 catalogue. Full disclosure: the author of this review is “twitter friends” with various employees on the MPress staff.

Upon first listening to Seth Glier’s 2010 release The Next Right Thing, I must admit I was unimpressed.

That’s because Glier’s sophomore effort simply isn’t worth listening to if you’re not prepared to listen carefully.

On first brush, The Next Right Thing sounds stylistically like it could have fit comfortably into the 90’s pop folk scene, and on its surface seems to offer little more than Fleetwood Mac mostly unplugged.

And yet, having completed my first listen through the album I found myself strangely compelled to listen harder for what could make this album make sense.

In fairness, Glier tricked us. The opening track, “The Next Right Thing,” is a haunting but somewhat high-energy piece, and a total misdirect for the rest of the album. The Jack White-meets-Janis Joplin romp was actually quite good, and in its way the only “cool” song on the album. But it’s also the only part of the album I don’t get, standing alone as an outlier in a collection of intensely personal, intensely emotional, and otherwise stylistically similar songs that make no attempt to be cool.

The introspective Glier spends too much time on this album being honest to try to be cool.

In reality, the album warms up with track two, takes a deep breath with the “String Intro,” and begins again in earnest with “Lauralee.”

Despite what “The Next Right Thing” might have had you believe you were in store for, the album shares only a name with its opening track. From bitter snarls aimed at Wall Street (“First”) to bittersweet memories of a complicated past, The Next Right Thing is, from a lyrical perspective, an emotionally weighty and intensely personal album, seemingly written as much for him as for us, which perhaps is what makes his music so genuine.

Glier’s earnest and deftly composed lyricism and memorable vocal performance shines brightest on the touching “Down With This Ship,” which doubles as the most musically satisfying track on the album, replacing occasionally boring, often acoustic instrumentation seen elsewhere on the record with a sweeping display of the fullest extent of Glier’s abilities as a songwriter tugging relentlessly at the heartstrings.

Musically speaking, The Next Right Thing generally offers little that would be considered particularly new territory for a folk album, but as is the trend throughout the ex-music school dropout’s catalogue, the record is well constructed throughout. Glier relies on the aesthetic quality of his voice to make his music unique.

Seth Glier’s The Next Right Thing earns itself a 4 / 5. Glier shines as a lyricist who sounds like he sings with his heart stuck in his throat. From revelation to breakdown and back again, Glier welcomes us into his world with reckless honesty; and if you listen very carefully, you will most certainly hear the beauty in his breakdown for yourself.

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