To be completely honest, when I first got my hands on “A Twist In My Story,” I wasn’t expecting a great deal. In fact, I only took the time to find it for a friend who was a big fan of John Vasaly’s label debut, “Awake.” I listened to the singer/songwriter’s aforementioned effort more than a handful of times and, although I enjoyed it somewhat, there’s only so much you can do with an above-average voice and an acoustic guitar. The songs were pleasant, but as a whole, it became rather too monotonous for me. Boring, I guess.
So when I decided to give “A Twist In My Story,” a listen, I was very pleasantly surprised. Opening track “Like A Knife” immediately introduces the “new” Secondhand Serenade with the unfamiliar sound of an electric guitar, followed by the sweet crash of, you guessed it, a crash cymbal… Drums. Excellent! This theme continues throughout the CD, and contributes greatly to making the album far more diverse and, therefore, a fair amount more entertaining than the band's previous two releases. “Like A Knife” goes on to become one of the better songs on the record, with Vasaly’s sweetness producing a chorus that’ll melt any girl’s heart.
A piano greets us immediately as we enter the second track, “Fall For You.” The more instruments the better here. In the third song, I a re-working of older song “Maybe,” (and later “Your Call”), Vasaly proves that his new music is miles ahead of his older work. It’s amazing what a few more instruments and a bigger budget can do. The production on “A Twist In My Story” is far crisper than previous efforts.
It is unfortunate that the album starts to lose something by about the 7th or 8th song. For me at least, the songs slip gradually into that old mould that I got rather tried of on “Awake.” My mind starts to drift, almost consistently – not a good thing. However, this definitely doesn’t take away from the fact that Vasaly’s songwriting has taken a giant step in the right direction, and I’m excited to see what he hands us next. In the meantime, Secondhand Serenade are well on their way to becoming the next Dashboard Confessional.
“Like A Knife”
“Fall For You”
Take it or leave it? Put it this way – if you hated Secondhand Serenade before, you’ll probably still hate Secondhand Serenade, and I would recommend giving this one a miss. If you liked the first CD, you’ll eat this up. If you’re somewhere, anywhere, in between, definitely give it a listen. At the worst, you’ll be indifferent about a lot of the CD, and perhaps find a song or two to include on the next mixtape you make for your crush.