When a passionate, talented artist finds another and things click, it’s kismet. Over the last three years such good fortune has led songwriter Chris Dreyer and guitarist Scott Taylor to create some amazing music as the band Goodbye Picasso. The band’s first album is The Book of Aylene (TBoA), which releases August 24.
TBoA tells the story about a musician who gets the girl, gets a great gig, and begins a downward spiral of drugs, relationships, until finally losing the gig altogether. Thankfully I was told this isn’t autobiographical in nature, which is awesome. In an age of overly engineered albums, it’s nice to find a concept album that is simply that: a concept seen through the arc of a series of tracks.
I’m positive there are many influences on the record, but as I listened I was reminded of artists from the 1970s, like Van Morrison and Simon & Garfunkel. Country influences aren’t far behind either, especially in the last song, “The Devil, The Bottle, and Me.” The hand of a storyteller was hard at work throughout this album, with a simplicity and honesty in words and melody that provide a deep landscape upon which to layer some sweet instrumentals.
Though I love the faster, more upbeat or bluesy tunes more than the ballads, the mixture meant styles changed across the album to reflect the tone of particular songs through the story arc. Everything from a rockin’ blues tune to acoustic strings and almost a wild west sounding piano can be heard as the tales progress and the main character falls further down the rabbit hole.
My favorite song on the album is the nearly drunken blues of “I Don’t Want Nothin’,” with some riffs between saxophones and lead electric guitar that just sell the lyrics that much more. The musician is losing his girl, and he knows it: “Don’t call me superstitious when I catch you watching her / With your dirty little secrets of the places that you were / And you can play it cool / Or act the fool / It all looks well rehearsed / You’ve been talking me in circles, as if somehow I’ve not heard.”
But songs like “Lick the Thumb, Turn the Page” really define the struggling artist’s goal to find a way to be discovered playing gigs in some small town: “My drummer’s friend’s in A&R / He seems to think we could go far / It’s much harder than it sounds / Being no one in this town.” Playing to and for people through those initial years, he sings, “All these evenings that I’ve spent / With all these people I’ll forget.” The virtual blur of names and faces, places and gigs all must wear on a musician’s soul.
“The Song That Says Goodbye” tells the story of when the musician really figures out that he’s losing it as things start falling apart. This is a ballad, almost. Although it sounds more like he’s making excuses for himself until the end of the song, when he realizes he’s slipped too far and maybe his girl should keep her distance: “I kept on accusing everyone else / For these consistent bruises I gave myself / Is it real when you realize no wealth? / And you were best off losing with someone else.”
I could go on all day writing about these songs and the words therein. The tales embedded capture the manic cycle and downfall of a musician losing his battle with fame and fortune. When you add the beautiful musical compositions and soulful vocals, TBoA reaches a whole new level of introspection and sorrow as the musician hits rock bottom.
If you are looking for something new — something truly artistic and enjoyable from a group we should all get to know better — be sure to check out Goodbye Picasso’s The Book of Aylene when it’s released on August 24. It’s going to be a hard album to follow up after the inevitable national and world tours that will follow. I only hope that the band doesn’t read their own lyrics and start down this path of self destruction!
For more information about the band, their touring schedule, and lyrics for The Book of Aylene, be sure to check out GoodbyePicasso.com.