The third album from Nashville’s Bear Cub, Good Morning, Every Morning, is a blatant and bare-bones odyssey of indie folk. Filled with plinking pianos and shouting backing vocals, Jesse Hall sings of forgoing stability for travel, thoughts on love and either one or many women that screwed things up good for him.
Opening track “I’ve Been Around” is an anthem to wanderlusting artists with practicality nipping at their heels: I don’t think that we’ll be rich/but I know we won’t be bored… what’s the worst that could happen/I said with a grin as I turn my back on income for a life I want to live.
In the sound of Bear Cub, Bright Eyes meets the Beatles with heartfelt, sometimes strained and scraped-raw vocals paired with cascading piano and some quiet but breezy melodies like the softer spots of the White Album. Lyrics are far from abstract but still accessible to anyone even as Hall tells a story that belongs specifically to him or someone he knows, like in “Cheer Up, Rich”: 2010 was hard on me/but I finally found some room to breathe/I had to fight my way out of it/I had to rearrange everything/oh but heartbreak is nothing new/it’s only unique when it happens to you. The song, like many on the LP, is backed by a chorus sloppily but charmingly shouting encouragement.
Laughter and stress both creep audibly into Hall’s voice, whether describing a different sort of needy phone call (“Tell Me I’m Wrong”) or growing from a boy to a man in the toughest way (“Show It to Me”), and the words hit the hardest when he describes people at odds through small circumstances: I told you how I used to smoke two packs but now I don’t/you said that’s great I’m really proud of you/but do you have a light? (“The Fight”).
I favor the latter half, which sheds some pop buoyancy for darker waters: a folky stomp cut with screaming punk vocals on “Three Records Deep,” distortion coated black over lyrics about being gunned down in “Free at Last,” a slow and beautiful stomp-and-shake punctuated with vocal backup that sounds like a drunken buddy cheerfully throwing in his two cents at a bar on “Good Lord!” Good Morning, Every Morning features fantastic, slipshod gang vocals, well-spun stories and innovative melodies—not so bad for a record about a lot of rough times.
Hear and download Good Morning, Every Morning at bearcubclub.bandcamp.com.