Jason Lytle - Yours Truly, The Commuter
Record Label: ANTI-
Release Date: May 19, 2009
Many people haven’t heard of Grandaddy, but those who have respect them immensely. Grandaddy started making quirky indie rock before I was enrolled in preschool. After a long, release-filled 14 year career, Grandaddy parted ways in 2006 (their discography sports 4 self-released albums, 4 studio albums, 4 compilations, 5 contributions, 5 EPs, 16 singles, and 4 split singles). While indie rock fans were certainly disappointed, not a single person doubted front man and main contributor Jason Lytle’s prolific nature. And although Jason’s first Sew-Low Owl-Bum comes an excruciating 3 years after the band’s breakup, it was well worth the wait.
Yours Truly, The Commuter could easily be the 5th Grandaddy studio album. Even with a significant change of scenery (40 year old Lytle moved from Modesto to Montana after Grandaddy's demise), there is no significant change in style. And since Lytle was in a clear position to potentially alienate loyal Grandaddyists, there couldn’t be a more solid compliment than saying Jason picked up right where the band left off, especially since Grandaddy’s final effort in 2006, Just Like the Fambly Cat, was released after the band’s breakup, and without a farewell tour.
Yours Truly starts out in more traditional, direct fashion than Fambly Cat, with a low fi, gingerly-played sine wave and spring reverbed bass line leading directly into a “Now It’s On”-esque pop tune. The lyrics are more angst-filled than the mostly positive “Now It’s On” (from the full length Sumday), however, as Jason sings “Last thing I heard I was left for dead. Well, I could give two shits about what they said. I may be limping, but I’m coming home.” likely referring to the perception of his down-and-out departure from the music scene over the last few years.
On an album with predominately chilled out songs, acoustic guitar, and piano, one stand out track is the punk influenced “It’s The Weekend”. Reminiscent of “Florida”, off the Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla EP (but without the rough screaming), “It’s The Weekend” is the feel-good climax of Yours Truly. More tracks of this upbeat nature would have served the album well, since listening to Yours Truly on shuffle might leave one asking “Where’s the happy stuff?” until “It’s The Weekend” comes along.
On a related note, Yours Truly’s only real weakness is that many of the songs sound more like closing tracks than the mid album meat needed to keep an album out of the slow song lull. With 4 mostly-piano songs (“I Am Lost (And The Moment Cannot Last)”, “Furget It”, “This Song Is The Mute Button”, and “Here For Good”) and 2 other songs that come in well under 3 minutes (the previously mentioned “It’s The Weekend” and “You’re Too Gone”) the 42 minute album can seem a bit short, even with the slower tempos providing the illusion of longevity. With that said, none of the 12 songs are sure skips if you’re in the mood for a relaxed record.
On the positive side, Lytle is at the top of his game when it comes to crafting heart wrenching non love songs. “Ghost Of My Old Dog” and “Brand New Sun”, 2 of the record’s stronger tracks, need not much more than an acoustic guitar, acoustic drums, and synth to deliver Jason’s trademark chord progressions and melodies. “Rolling Home Alone” brings a familiar feel, with a unique, descending delivery of the same old major and minor chords alongside a gurgling one note synth solo and fake strings.
Overall, Yours Truly, The Commuter delivers exactly what any Jason Lytle or Grandaddy fan would hope for: introspective lyrics, unique instrumentation, honest vocals, and a clean presentation to wrap them all together. Even though there is not much to warrant filing this under “Jason Lytle” in your iTunes rather than “Grandaddy”, most would be happy to set this one on the shelf next to their Grandaddy collection without hesitation. Lytle has successfully made the transition to solo artist, and one can bet many more great releases are on the horizon for DIY veteran Jason Lytle.