Sperry Alan’s third LP, Before Our Time, documents the Nova Scotian’s journey after his decision to not commit suicide. Needless to say, this makes the contents quite raw and familiar to anyone who has had a really bad day—in short, everyone. It’s quite fitting that Alan’s genre is alternative rock, as so many powerfully emotional songs on mainstream radio seem to be of the genre. At times using guitar riffs reminiscent of the early years of Pearl Jam, Alan’s unique vocals are placed within sparse rock and folk rock-ish melodies that are for the most part mid-tempo and soulful. While the inspiration for this album, which was released earlier this year, might be dark, its tracks are most certainly not.
Its first offering, the jaunty guitar-driven “Hold on Tight”, is about hanging on during the roughest times in one’s life. Clocking in at less than two minutes, it is a catchy little thing filled with fuzzy guitars. Only guitars and drums build the melody, allowing for Alan’s vocals to be showcased rather that stifled. The lyrics are reminiscent of conversations many, if not all, have had: not giving up and carrying on however difficult things might be. The ending is quite abrupt and confusing; after the build-up, one piano-played chord ends the entire thing. It is a metaphor for how suicide ends a young life seemingly revving up to go places.
A piano kicks things off in “Made of Mistakes I Am”, a tune which, just like the Yoda-inspired title, seems to be built from end to beginning as well as from top to bottom, making sense in its own reconstruction of the world. It again almost feels like a musical metaphor. While the composition seems to be all over the place—it starts off with a piano, goes very rock and roll with drums and distorted guitars, and ends with a keyboard-led lullaby of sorts—the overall song makes sense. It brings forth a unique beauty, just like each human being is beautiful, even if the pieces that compose it don’t correspond to a certain set of criteria.
The short and soft backing female vocals, the almost cheerful mid-tempo guitar strumming, and warm horns on “I Maintain” are a contrast to the sadness in other songs. The track swerves almost on the side of despair without quite plunging into it but at a little under a minute and a half, it’s almost as if Alan is consciously deciding not to give these dark feelings too much space.
The even shorter “Give Me a Warning” has some of the clearest guitars on the LP; its rolling drum line clears whatever clouds might have come across one’s heart and mind while listening to its predecessor. The grungy guitars in “Rock & Roll Life” make it a very straight-forward, heartfelt ode to the genre. Female vocals make another appearance on “My Woman”, which paints a vivid picture of a simple love story unfettered with the drama that makes up most such stories as featured in the media. The instrumental “Pig” finishes off Before Our Time with an upbeat, cheerful jam.
Made up of a series of short offerings, some very much so, Before Our Time, although about Alan’s own life experience, is an album that many will connect with because of the universality of the emotions it touches upon. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information about Sperry Alan is available on his official website.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.
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