In the not-so-distant past, we've heard about Bradley Hathaway being a hardcore "manly" man who just wants a hug, among other things, like beautiful fat ladies, joy, and boring days. But in 2007, we get to hear about The Thing That Poets Write About, The Thing That Singers Sing About. And we hear about it with music behind every track, as opposed to his previous work, which was almost strictly spoken word. So what exactly happens when Bradley Hathaway gets a band? Well, through a number of different instruments and musicians, the finished product is very indie and folk-rock, with lyrics that would still attract most anyone in the emo scene.
The Thing That Poets Write About... is a concept album. The first half of the project is about a guy and a girl who meet and fall in love. In the second half, the relationship has ended, and Bradley reflects on the guy's pain and eventual forgiveness. The two meet in the song "I've Been Alone For My Whole Life," where the guy admits "I never knew I was lonely until you weren't around." The feelings blossom into love in "Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue" and "Like Socrates Loved The Truth (So Do I Love You)." In the latter of the two, he describes his love to be "Like Johnny loved June, like flowers love to bloom, like a knight loves a princess, like a mother bird loves to nest, so do I love you". The love for his girl culminates in what might be the most profound love song on the album, let alone any love song I've heard as of late, "Well I Say What I Mean and I Mean What I Say." It's not that the words are so eloquent and poetic, but it's the honesty and true love expressed in the simplicity of the lyrics - lyrics like, "I can't see my life apart from yourself, I want pictures of us wed on top of a shelf, will you be my wife, will you love me for the rest of my life."
Although no explanation is given for the break-up, the pain it caused is described in the almost ZZ Top-rock-ish, "The Hardest Thing I Had To Do." The bitterness and "you'll come back to me"'s are the crux of the lyrics. "Wake Up In The Morning, Wish I Did Not (I Got Pain)" shares the feelings that are usually hidden underneath the bitterness, the pain and hurt of losing the one you love, "Look at the mirror and frown, turn the picture of my girl around." But then the closure and forgiveness comes with "Our Love Was Good and Our Love Was Right." Hathaway says, "No I'm not bitter, and no I'm not mad, I'm just thankful for the times we had, so this is farewell, this is goodbye, I know you're a girl but you don't have to cry, because our love was good, and our love was right, and I don't regret it, no not a single night, so goodbye my love."
One downfall of this album is the 27-minute conversation near the end of the disc. It's good to listen to at least once all the way through, because it's a man and woman talking about their real life experience of true love for each other, but it probably won't be a track that will be played all too often. Also, Bradley is more used to just reciting poetry than singing, so his singing voice still needs to be developed considerably more, but its frailties end up working for the poetic reading style. Highlights, though, include the DVD documentary of the recording process that comes with the packaging, as well as the nearly 80-page booklet inside. The booklet contains not only the lyrics, but pictures, journal entries, the entire conversation mentioned earlier (as an alternative to listening to it all the way through), and the chords for some of the songs as well.
Fans of Bradley's earlier stuff will be more apt to enjoy this offering. But fans of folk and acoustic music, with maybe a little country thrown in, or even fans of songs with emo lyrics, might be drawn to his passion and God-given gifts. It's definitely worth the purchase.- Review date: 10/22/07, written by Scott Fryberger
Record Label: (independent)
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