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Choose Your Own Adventure

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Album Review

Choose Your Own Adventure, Jon Bolden's 2006 release on Panther Records, is a bit of a departure from his previous work. Before this release, Bolden garnered some attention for a couple albums' worth of irreverent and enjoyable acoustic songs like "I'm So Awkward," a tribute to an adolescent web stalker. His desire to create something more coherent and musically serious is evident, and the result is a group of somewhat homogenous-sounding songs that hang together well. The irreverence is toned down but Bolden, like a fidgety kid in a Christmas pageant, can't really hold a straight face for 13 whole tracks. The album is a song cycle, starting with "Breathe In" and ending with (wait for it) "Breathe Out." It's debatable whether this framing works for or against Bolden. The most enjoyable tracks on this album are the fun ones — the ones that exhibit Bolden, both as a songwriter and as a performer, at his least self-conscious. "The People I Know," a song released on one of Bolden's earlier albums, shows off the kind of guitar-driven quirkiness and levity that earned him a cult following in the first place. Bolden can seem downright maudlin at times (see the howl at the end of "In Color"), but he makes up for it with jumpy Weezer-style pop songs like "Marla Singer" or "Inspiration." This is an uneven album, but Bolden's fans will undoubtedly enjoy Choose Your Own Adventure for those moments when Bolden drops his guard and grins.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Indie rocker and graphic designer Jon Bolden started writing and playing songs while going to school at Marietta College in Marietta, OH, a tiny town situated on the shores of the Ohio River. There wasn't much of a music scene in Marietta, but this did little to discourage Bolden. He started playing and recording songs soon after he moved there, gaining a cultish online fan base with his humorous indie pop tunes and earning a local following with his eccentric live shows. He released a couple albums...
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Choose Your Own Adventure, Jon Bolden
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