Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Album Review: 1789

Posted on October 27, 2014 in Arts & Culture, Music
By elledavis

Krysteana Scribner | The Free Press

1789 was the year the French Revolution began. 1789 is also the name of the new Turny Les and Connor Bruce split album, and like the war of ten years, it’ll have you humming its melodies through the horrors of existing in disarray.

Not to say that the split is by any means melancholic. Most of it is sway-worthy, thought-provoking folk music with a touch of mournfulness.  But mourning for what?  Surely not the same things that torture the adult soul, for both musicians still revel in their adolescence. These songs aren’t pained but rather bittersweet.

Connor Bruce, who is from the Portland area,  has a guitar that he puts to good use. The first four tracks on 1789 are entirely his. His voice is deep and droning, perhaps a young lo-fi Nick Cave with less of a flare for the dramatic. The tone of each song is slightly off key and off kilter in a very stylistic approach.  In the most upbeat song, “15 Weeks,” Bruce sings about forgetting to brush his teeth. One would think lyrics like these would be devoid of feeling, but there’s something relatable about the apathy and the humor of a teenage boy wailing about his lack of dental hygiene. After all, sometimes it’s the simple struggles that get people down, and Bruce is here to remind his listeners of that.

If Bruce isn’t your thing, the second half of the album is dedicated entirely to Turny Les, the moniker for Waynflete sophomore, Toby Nye. There’s something really sincere about the way Nye writes music. His guitar is refined, and his voice comforting even as he warbles on the last track of the album, “Bonnie:” “I don’t wanna kiss you/ ‘cause I know where my mouth’s been/ dirty pipes and dirty crackheads.”

Nye’s youth appears to make him knowledgeable in a way that the old and jaded become dumb with age.  His side of the split album reflects a free-spirit and the intense connections with the world, other people, and the importance of being in touch with oneself enough to know what you are and what you aren’t.

You could write Turny Les off as just another self-produced acoustic folk musician with the idea that he has something to say about humanity, but you’d be brushing off the intricate details of knowing what it’s like to gain the perspective of Nye himself.  Hear his songs about his personal experience living life, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

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