Joey Cape's New Introspective, Soul-Bearing Album Sheds Light on the Personal Toll of the Pandemic
4.7 out of 5 stars
A Good Year To Forget is saying it mildly for Joey Cape (front man of Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut and Me First and The Gimme Gimmes) who had about one of the worst years anyone who survived 2020 could have had.
His dad passed away, he contracted Covid-19, his marriage dissolved after 20 years, and he having to find ways to make ends meet and just get back to a normal life moved back in with his mom and her husband. As a man over 50, those are some very hard pills to swallow, and to have to do so in that short of time is even harder. To add on to it all, he couldn't play music with his band, go on tour, or really even produce music.
Except he did.
He was able to because he's a creative genius that got bored, fed up, and had to put his energy, anger, frustration, disappointment, and reflective life lessons into the artform he knows best.
This album starts off with a true anthem of a song in the title track "A Good Year To Forget," and then throws in some sullen, somber, introspective tunes like "It Could Be Real," "We Might Be Wrong", and "Infertile Ground" that show exactly what it means to be hurt and vulnerable.
Cape had no way to make the music with anyone as he lives in California, and so he decided to play all the instruments himself, and he wasn't able to get creative feedback during the process (or maybe he didn't want to get others too involved). What sprouted out was a mind-dump of some of the most sincere songs he has ever created.
While I know the songs will take multiple listens to "get them," as all Cape songs do, I initially would say this is probably his second or third best album as a solo artist just because I have heard the others so many times and have such attachment to them. Ask me in 6 months if I hold that same opinion though, and it may be a totally different answer.
Cape's lyrics are usually so well written that they are overlooked, because the music of his bands and even the uptempo of a lot of his solo work just make you want to rock out and listen to the music. Then you hear what's being sung about, and you realize there is a LOT more to the song than you originally thought.
The album reminds me a lot of Johnny Cash's last few albums where he just seemed to be super reflective and regretful about some of the things that happened in his life, and you could just hear the pain through his voice. A lot of that emotion comes through in this album by Cape.
"Come Home" is the final song on the album, and it really does show you just how personal the songs are as he speaks (seemingly directly) to his ex-wife in the song. It is definitely one of the best songs on the album.
You can stream the album from Spotify starting Friday, August 13th by clicking this link. You can also watch the Official Video for "It Could Be Real" right here.