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Souvenirs & Postcards

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Customer Reviews

Springsteen-esque Tale-spinner

This is quite simply a phenomenal album. These are “recordings from the road” (the album’s subtitle), written and recorded in dressing rooms, tour buses, and who-knows-where while Andrew was tooling around the country as part of Caedmon’s Call last year. The stripped-down format–most songs are just Andrew’s voice and guitar–gives the album an intimate, right-in-your-living-room feel, reminiscent of Springsteen’s The River. Osenga’s singing style works very well with his songwriter-as-storyteller approach. For some reason, I feel like it should be released in October. It has a very autumn-turning-to-winter melancholy about it. The leaves are dying, everything’s turning brown, but there off in the distance is the hope of another spring. Now to the songs. Anyone who has heard Andrew’s previous solo project (Photographs, 2002) will immediately notice the similarity of S & P’s track 4, “The Broadway Bartender,” to the previous album’s “High School Band.” “Bartender” has some of the same melodic hooks, and both songs tip their hats heavily to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” in both subject matter and waltz tempo cadence. OK, we got that out of the way. Still a great song; I just think of it as “High School Band” part 2. Track 1, “I Miss Those Days” raises the interesting idea that we can become nostalgic for times in our life that were actually quite painful when we were living them. The second track, “Roses in a Dead Man’s Hand” echoes Springsteen most clearly of the seven on this album (including a lonely freight train “wooooo” in the distant background). “Roses” uses striking poetic imagery to portray the struggle of faith that comes from the realization of the weight of our crimes. We know the promises of grace and forgiveness, but sometimes when we look in the miror, they’re hard to believe. “If I Had Wings…” takes a different turn on the Psalmist’s question (”Where could I flee from Your presence?”). This song recognizes that, at times, we would all gladly take the escape pod–if only life offered one. The “slow death of autumn” theme comes through most clearly here. Includes a one-verse vocal turn form Steven Delopoulos (formerly of Burlap to Cashmere). In “The Priest and the Iron Rain” (track 5), Andrew takes up where Hemingway left off in “A Farewell to Arms,” playing the part of a disillusioned soldier fighting in Europe whose dying faith is challenged by a priest who takes him in for protection. Great use of metaphor, contrasting the beauty of the Swiss Alps with the drabness of the narrator’s Minnesota upbringing. Because of my own life experience, “Baby, Don’t Worry” is the song on this album that I most connect with. Like Andrew, my wife and I often have lived a hand-to-mouth existence while pursuing God’s call on our lives. But we’ve always known that “as long as we’re together / we’ve got it all / and the rest is gonna take a little time.” By the grace of God, we’ve always made it through…and in retrospect, as the opening cut posited, the bad times become the good times with the perspective of time. S & P closes with “The Letter” of an old friend that brings the narrator back to the days when that friend was bright-eyed with an enthusiasm that somehow life stepped on over the years. The closing verses of the song made me tear up with remembrance of old friends I’ve lost track of. Like Andrew, I hope they’re “still out there somewhere” and “on their way home.” Souvenirs & Postcards deserves close, thoughtful listening. This isn’t background music for your next keg party. If you’re among those who miss the introspective life-journal songs that Derek Webb used to write in his Caedmon’s Call days, you have a home in the writing of Andrew Osenga.

What a great disc

Seriously, the only downside is that there are only seven songs. 'Priest and the Iron Rain' is one of the best storytelling songs I have ever heard, and 'Roses in a Dead Man's Hand' is beautifully convicting in its honest look at our tendency to sit on the Gospel. If you have never heard Osenga before, you should. And this would be a great place to start.

Proof

This album is proof that Andrew Osenga does not require a full band or heavy production to sell his songs. I believe this album (or the bulk of it) was recorded on the back of a tour bus with his laptop and an MBox. With minimal instrumentation and great vocals Andrew's songs shine. He even finds some help with some tour mates (I believe) - some of the Jars guys lend a hand (if i remember correctly) and Steven Delopoulos (of Burlap to Cashmere fame) lends some stunning vocals to "If I Had Wings..." This is a beautifully done album with just the right amount of everything to it. Every song has a special place but personal stand-outs include "The Priest and the Iron Rain" (love the melody), "Baby, Don't Worry" (who doesn't relate with this aching heart?), "If I Had Wings...," "Roses in a Dead Man's Hand" (and if I continue I'll just list all the songs)... Again, another great album from AO and further proof that his songs are beautiful to the core. P.S. This makes a great night-driving album.

Souvenirs & Postcards, Andrew Osenga
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