Release Date: August 5, 2014
Studio: Simpul Studios
For Fans of: Tony Sly, Russ Rankin, Joey Cape, Justin Sane, Zippy Josh, Owen Pye, Green Day
From the largest city in Idaho comes Sef Idle, a multi-faceted musician who has been crafting tunes for two decades. Not many artists can jump between punk and any type of softer genre with ease of transition, but Sef Idle certainly can.
“5 AM” is a somber and almost dismal opening track, at least sonically speaking. Idle uses this song to recount the sights, sounds, scents, tastes and thoughts of another Monday morning on the path of life. He incorporates light shaker and piano accentuation for this track, opening the EP with calm and innocent expressions.
With “Back Then,” his punk rock roots invariably come to the surface, serving as further evidence of the songwriter’s capabilities. Idle’s lyrics are piercingly transparent, highlighting the fact that many artists never even dip their toes into his level of honesty.
Even within softer genres, Idle is likely to be a stand-out example of raw limpidity. “Back Then” is a song composed to voice the empathetic concerns and emotions that Idle experienced when appearing to have lost a friend that he cared about and deeply appreciated.
Throughout Start Again, one can hear how Idle is adept at modifying the subtleties within his songs to create different musical inflections. His tendencies within acoustic music are primarily minimalist, underscoring his vocal and lyrical lines.
Title track “Start Again” is one of the EP’s strongest songs. Idle stirs up some of his most stimulating, inspiring and rousing lyrics on the EP, issuing a call for all of his listeners to remember that they are still alive and that life is not as bad as one can make it. Idle legitimately wants to encourage his listeners on living each day to the full, leaving the past in the past and pushing onwards to strive for more.
The fact that Idle’s EP is stripped-down instrumentally is more than made up by the fact that Idle’s lyrics are far more mature than much of the music one can hear anywhere. On “In The Sand,” Idle steps out even further lyrically and discusses the love he has for his significant other within the light of unwavering commitment.
It is rare that individuals even twice his age, whether musicians or not, would be able to share the same thoughts and feelings with such uninhibited authenticity. This is funny, because at the beginning of “In The Sand,” Idle mentions how up until such a point in his musical career, he felt unable to put words to an experience (love) that to him feels “so real.” The way in which Idle is able to craft genuine expressions of his relationship with his significant other without jeopardizing or cheapening the intimacy of his relationship is second to none.
“Big And Strong” may well be Start Again’s most touching and visceral song. On this track, Idle talks openly about the patriarchy of his family, candidly sharing his reflections about both of his grandfathers and his father.
The musician feels as though he has large and demanding shoes to fill when both his grandfathers and father are gone, posing as an understandably daunting task that he finds an outlet for in music. Idle does not get down on himself too hard, and it is extremely honorable and heartwarming of him for the listener to hear his thoughts on some of life’s biggest questions.
“Strong, hardworking man, as gentle as can be/A fine example of what a man should be” is one lyric that really stands out, capturing an unfaltering representation of just how much truth permeates Idle’s songs. Music like this is truly rare, and when it is found, must be widely shared.
To wrap the EP up is “Get Back Up,” Idle’s only cut of quasi-punk on Start Again. It is on this track that Idle sounds identical to Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. Idle continues his themes of persistence, victory, triumph and celebration of the present on “Get Back Up,” as he sings about being ready to take hold of the “ups” and good days that he considers to be headed his way again soon.
Sef Idle wastes no time in beating around the bush with Start Again and places forth a piece of music with nothing but unconcealed honesty and real emotion. His lyrics are to be highly commended, as they interact with territory that everyone wants to know about but no one wants to share. This choice in crafting his music speaks to the type of person Idle is.
The horizon of Sef Idle’s musical future is likely very bright, provided he continues to be uncompromising in the composition of such bona fide, heart-crafted songs. Below you can check out Sef Idle’s website, music and YouTube channel, as well as his label, Thumper Punk Records.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.
Review by Brad Johnson