JT Woodruff is perhaps best known as lead singer of the band Hawthorne Heights, but since the release of 2012’s ‘Heavy, Heavy, Heavy, Heavy Heart’ he has also been pursuing a solo career that takes a step back from his band’s rockier sound. Having released his third solo studio effort, ‘Lonesome’ in late January, we see that Woodruff is continuing to pursue a mellower pop-rock sound, with some interesting results.
A chilled but ultimately sombre outing, ‘Lonesome’ sees Woodruff, unsurprisingly, focusing on the theme of loneliness. Wistful opener ‘Suitcase’ and the mellow closer ‘Wanderlost’ bookend this mature album nicely, setting the tone and tempo for the majority of these 11 tracks. However, the album does see some contrast, with his rock roots coming out in tracks like ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘Sundown’. However, the sonic feel for most of these songs sees ‘Lonesome’ as an incredibly apt title.
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A particular album highlight is the pained ‘Down Patton Hill’, which sees Woodruff address the loss of his parents and the effect that this has and continues to have on him. It is a haunting track, with lines like “All I want for Christmas is my family back” really demonstrating the emotional pain of losing a loved one and feeling ‘lonesome’ in the wake of this loss. Coming towards the latter half of the album, lyrics like “she used pretty paper and wrapped up all her love // and now she spends Christmas in the sky above” really hit an emotional punch.
Furthermore, the album sees some interesting recording methods on the track ‘All You Need Is Dust’, as well as wistful and angst-ridden feelings sung over a mellow, steady guitar line in ‘All These Damn Regrets’. Most of the album slips seamlessly along and it seems as if Woodruff is uninterested whether anyone is actually listening. This is by no means a bad thing as it shows the raw honesty of this record, which lyrically plunges into despair, juxtaposed with easy-going, steady and even relaxing instrumentation.
On the whole, the album is incredibly steady and consistent in its instrumentation, mature in its approach and sombre in its subject matter. Its steady sounds could easily allow this to slip under the radar, but it is an album of honest and emotional music that is most definitely worth a listen. With a country/folk tinge to this music, this album sees Woodruff build on the vibe of his first two solo efforts. ‘Lonesome’ does not screech with anger or weep with despair. It is undoubtedly pained and steeped in hurt, but it also offers a stoic resignation and acceptance that makes this album a mature and interesting listen.
Lonesome is available now, via In Vogue Records.