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Love At Thirty

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Album Review

Beaujolais is the name for Joe Ziemba's solo work. In the two years since he broke up his previous band, the Like Young, citing a need to move on from the stress of making music, he's been through some nasty stuff — mainly the breakup of his marriage to Wolfie, Busytoby, and Like Young bandmate Amanda Lyons. The two had worked together since 1997 and been married since 2002, and the shocking nature of the breakup and the subsequent fallout inspired Ziemba to make music once again. Love at Thirty is a harrowing and unflinching look at what happened, and its honesty and sheer emotional power put it on a level with Richard & Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights, Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear, and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks as an impressively honest and emotional album about divorce. No doubt the album will never reach the level of renown those albums have, but that's only because of the nature of music in the 2000s. In other words, Love at Thirty will never escape the indie ghetto. Really, though, there's no reason a record as direct, literate, and musically diverse and accomplished as this shouldn't make the Top Five of lists of "great" divorce albums. Ziemba totally invests himself in making the album sound as precisely arranged and melodic as possible, easily surpassing anything from the heyday of Wolfie. The slickness and lushness of the sound, and his heartfelt but always under control vocals, are at odds with the gut-wrenching lyrics that spare no feelings and convey the story without laying out all the details. Unlike most albums of recent vintage, and possibly ever, just reading the lyric sheet is enough to convey the story behind the album. Throwing in the music and vocals makes it almost unbearable. Indeed, while the music is never less than interesting, even quite pretty at times, and the songs are catchy, there isn't a lot of pleasure to be derived from listening to Love at Thirty. It's a tough listen, but ultimately it's a worthy one. Partly due to the message in the last song, "When One Is Together," in which Ziemba puts all his fears and negativity "out to sea," and partly because of the simple fact that he made the record, Love at Thirty shows that you can make it through tough breakups mostly intact. Mostly it's the songs and the heart Ziemba invests in them that make this powerful album worth hearing.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Chicago-based singer/songwriter and former frontman for the indie rock outfits Wolfie and the Like Young, J.A. Ziemba crafts intricate pop songs that blend the grime and grit of garage rock with the melodic disposition of the Beach Boys. Formed six months after Ziemba and his wife divorced, Beaujolais became first a sounding board and then an outlet for the myriad emotions that trailed in the wake of the separation. The resulting Love at Thirty, which chronicled...
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Love At Thirty, Beaujolais
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