Army of Me - Searching For You
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Oct. 15, 2013
It was supposed to be the year that changed everything. In 2007, Washington, DC band Army of Me inked a deal with Atlantic Records after nearly a decade as a DIY independent. Misfortune soon reared its head when frontman/founder/songwriter Vince Scheuerman injured his vocal chords three weeks before the release of Citizen, pushing the frontman on the sidelines and leaving the future of Army of Me in limbo. Faced with the very real chance that he might not sing again, he decided to put Army of Me on hold and focus his priorities elsewhere. In time, the rest of the band went their own ways and Army of Me was more or less defunct. In 2009, he formed the quartet River James with Jacob Marshall of Mae but the band never gained any traction and parted ways almost as quickly as they formed.
In 2012, Scheuerman moved to Nashville and was fortunate enough to land a spot with the band Canon Blue as they opened for Mute Math on the band’s 2012 Odd Soul tour. Shortly after the tour, Scheuerman began writing songs and putting an album together. With Canon Blue singer Daniel James serving as producer and Paper Route’s Jeremy Larson coordinating string arrangements, the began crafting what would become Searching For You. Last month, six years since Citizen, Scheuerman has resurfaced with Searching For You, an album that once again uses the Army of Me moniker but is ostensibly a solo effort.
The album opens quietly with “Modern Times,” an intimate and spartan effort with delicate acoustic guitar, tender piano and Scheuerman’s inimitable voice. An introspective and reflective lullaby about fragility, pain and fear, it is an understated yet deeply powerful way to open an album that serves as much as a second chapter as it does a comeback. Equal parts haunting, cautionary and forlorn, “Modern Times” is the first of many moments in which Scheuerman rises way above anything he has written to date. Midtempo yarn “In My Blood,” a song from the River James songbook is a sweeping and elegant affair with soaring strings, weighty vocals and a big-hearted yearning that is both ageless and indelible.
Searching For You’s first wow moment comes in the form of “The Action is Rising,” a wistful and surging ballad with a lush piano melody and Scheuerman’s flawlessly controlled vocals. The album dips back into the River James songbook on the string-laden soldier song “Arlington,” a composition that is as much about pain as it is hope and longing. Searching For You’s first half concludes with “Walk in the Dark,” a beautifully adorned ballad about Scheuerman’s mother’s battle with cancer. Ageless, heart-rendering and deeply affecting it is arguably one of the strongest songs that Scheuerman has written to date.
The second half of Searching For You opens with “Tumbleweeds,” a homespun acoustic effort laden with supple strings and a deep sense of longing. The atmospheric title track and self-admitted centerpiece “Road Map” takes the emotion and weight of “Walk in the Dark” but goes deeper. Ostensibly a song about defiance, faith and indefatigability, it is a sterling testament of believing in oneself and never relenting. On the heels of that is the album’s single “White Flag Flies,” a piano-driven slice of hope that is uplifting, encouraging and certifiably catchy. The disc turns inward once again on the album’s closing triumvirate.
The swirling and enveloping “Song for a King” is the first of the three and spirals dramatically against the backdrop of teetering strings. Bolstered by stadium-ready vocals and a booming melodic progression it is another tremendous effort from an album that his thus far done very little wrong. The simple piano-driven effort “Dreams” is at times cliched and Hallmark-worthy but also deeply personal and full of anguish, hope and solace. Searching For You concludes with the encouraging ballad “Go,” a sweetly affecting summons to pursue life despite the obstacles.
The real takeaway from Searching For You is the palpable sense of pain, regret and courage that resonates from start to finish. In many ways the disc is a personal statement as it cascades from dark, stormy currents to open-hearted yearning. Though it as times saccharine and big-hearted, the sheer power of the string arrangements, the piano flourishes and Scheuerman’s first-rate vocals carry this disc forward. Stunning, haunting and absolutely beautiful, Searching For You is a towering step forward and an absolute must-listen.
I loved "Going through Changes" and was surprised that the band just disappeared. Will have to check this out now, thanks!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. It's considerably more subdued than Citizen, but I am pretty sure you will find a lot to like here. The string arrangements alone are absolutely outstanding.
I remember seeing them at a Starland show in around 2005 with TSL. They had this song "Saved Your Life" which is such a brilliant, catchy track. I play it every now and again and always wonder what happened to them. Excited to see them back. Can't wait to check this out.