Friday, December 26, 2008

Right Away, Great Captain! - The Eventually Home

November 23, 2008
For Fans of: Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine
Indie, Singer-Songwriter

A recent feature on Andy Hull, singer and songwriter of Right Away, Great Captain! revealed that the 22 year old spent his birthday this year pushing his written song count to over one thousand. Given that staggering statistic, one wonders what his quality control process is like. Are the ten songs that make up RAGC’s sophomore album, The Eventually Home, the ten best songs he wrote for the album? Are there tens (hundreds?) of others that complete the story of our betrayed, dejected, and previously shipwrecked protagonist? More importantly, are the rest of his songs this damn good? While the obsessive collector in me suffers through that thought process, the realist enjoys The Eventually Home for what it is: an outstanding addition to Hull’s already impressive catalogue.

On Home, Hull continues the story of 2006’s The Bitter End: the story of a sailor, shipwrecked and now on an insanity-induced mission to kill his family back home. Aside from an occasional piano or electric guitar, and the full-band arrangement of “I Am a Vampire,” Home, in true confessional style, features only Hull’s vocals and acoustic guitar. Many of his guitar parts are simple— “Devil Dressed in Blue” contains only five chords—but the simplicity adds to the intimacy. Home can be frenetic and heavy (emotional climax and penultimate track “I Am a Vampire”) or folksy and dark (opener “Down to Your Soul”). Hull’s timbre always matches the mood of the track; his tortured screams midway through “I Am a Vampire” are complimented by his haunting “I am going to commit familicide the first chance I get” desperation on “Once Like You.” The story behind Home takes a few listens to grasp—there are always a few “what the hell is he talking about?” moments with Andy Hull—but the eventual understanding leads to even deeper enjoyment.

Of course, The Eventually Home comprises at most, one one-hundredth of Hull’s canon. It’s difficult for me not to see the songs in that context and I have a feeling I will continue to do so until he releases a bad batch of songs. With Manchester Orchestra’s new full length due in Spring 2009, at least one more Right Away, Great Captain! album on the distant horizon (the RAGC story is reportedly a trilogy), and who knows what other projects he’s got planned, Hull will have ample opportunities to prove me wrong. I have a feeling he won’t.

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