- Django Soulo, Alone Together
(self-released, CD, digital, vinyl)
Have you ever been at a party — maybe sitting by the fire in early fall, sipping a cold one and not having a single deep thought in your head — when someone suddenly appeared next to you? They had a guitar, or maybe a ukulele, long hair, a long beard, perhaps feverishly stoned eyes, and there they were, suddenly telling you a story through song. Maybe it's just Vermont, but that is a thing, I swear! It's happened to me at least five times over the years, and the experience feels very similar to listening to Django Soulo's Alone Together.
"Tiger and the Lion" kicks things off with a beautifully soft acoustic guitar and Django Koenig — the one-man show that is Django Soulo — singing a stirring melody of love. The folksy dirge pauses before it comes back in with full country Technicolor, pedal steel notes peeling off courtesy of Brett Lanier. "Because we are one / just like the moon, stars and the sun," Koenig croons with the playful energy of a man confident in his message, whatever it might be.
Koenig has a local music pedigree. He played drums in the Americana act TallGrass GetDown before moving out west for a few years. Now back, he minds the skins for pop-rock outfit Yestrogen. Yet his third solo offering — following 2015's We Live On and a 2017 self-titled effort — stands apart from his work with other bands. The album's indie-folk framework provides a sort of launching pad, but over eight tracks — and one voicemail epilogue — Koenig displays an eclectic nature as a songwriter.
The acoustic Americana vibe ebbs and flows throughout the record as Koenig's songs stay kinetic, very rarely sounding complacent. There's a sort of "Hey, everything is gonna be cool" sentiment to certain lyrics, and a ribbon of weathered positivity runs throughout the LP.
Occasionally it all becomes a bit much, such as on "Travelin'," a fine piece of country writing. It's like that guy sitting next to you at the party is really trying to cheer you up about something that's actually bothering him. "Yes, I know we're going to make it through OK" is the song's final lyric, and it comes across like a very uncalled-for thesis.
A cover of indie darling Mac DeMarco's "No Other Heart" has no such issue. Koenig's take on the song lends a jaunty, '50s-style makeover to a tale of unrequited love. "Water & Wine" is a folksy, ponderous tune that features some gorgeous Spanish-style acoustic guitar leads from D. Davis.
"Raise Your Spirit (Snapshot)" is dedicated to Koenig's friend, and producer of his first two records, Dennis Dragon, who sadly took his own life. Seth Yacovone lends some jazz-tinged licks over the deceptively breezy tune. "We are just a snapshot of life over millions of years," sings Koenig, all but shrugging before Yacovone unleashes a keening guitar solo.
Alone Together is a charming, occasionally uneven record; it sometimes suffers from chill-vibe lyrics but never lacks musical intelligence or heart. Find the album digitally at djangosoulo.bandcamp.com, and on record and CD at djangosoulo.com.