Ohio Singer-songwriter, Tobin Sprout has released his sixth solo album, ‘The Universe And Me’.
The album represents an expression of everyone’s search for a place in the universe that, according to the artist, mostly occurs in the childhood. Digging through a treasure chest of memories during seven years of work, the album deals with Sprouts own universe which goes back towards his boyhood imagination, as in ‘Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow’, inspired by the fascination with superheroes from his youth.
The artist shifts back and forth between the lo-fi nature of his ex indie-rock group Guided by Voices and quieter elements. ‘I Fall You Fall’, for example, brings both: Sprout’s somber vocals and world weariness mixed with acoustic and electric guitar.
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Violins and piano in ‘When I Was A Boy’ vocally paint mid-90’s pop melodicism and the lyrics are a peculiar glimpse into the artist’s past – it reveals his awareness of the gap between childhood (“When I was a boy I used to run, but standing in the ground at last saw the sun”) when the singer found his place in the universe (“When I was a boy I found my faith, I found my love, I found my place”) and adulthood, where he remembers with nostalgia the past childhood (“Now I’m a man and I found my way, I still see the boy, I still feel the days”).
About the song Sprout says on A.V. Club: “It’s about things I learned or came to believe as a child, self-reliance, independence, faith, art. Things that I still carry with me today, it’s where I found grounding. Looking out as a child to what I wanted to be, and looking back and seeing that they are the same.”
The juxtaposition between the wistfulness of childhood and the weariness of adulthood is well presented by the lyrics, with the alternation of sweet naivety and heartbroken knowledge of the decline of humanity, as in ‘Walk Across the Human Bridge’ through the repetition of “Something’s broken” and “It’s just an ordinary day, you fall I fall, it’s so simple” piece of ‘I Fall You Fall’.
Sprout also cleverly lets the instruments prevail over the voice (as in ‘Tomorrow From Heaven’, ‘To Wake Up June’, ‘Honor Guards’) echoing the second half Sixties rock psychedelia of the Beatles and Velvet Underground.
Behind a piano in his Michigan home studio, Tobin Sprout has created a personal and nostalgic childhood revisit. With his simple but expressive way of writing, he deliberately focuses on feelings which emerge through the smoothness of his boyish and pleasant voice, even when the listener strains to hear the words.
‘The Universe And Me’ is out now via Burger Records.
01. Future Boy Today/Man Of Tomorrow
02. The Universe And Me
03. A Walk Across The Human Bridge
04. Manifest Street
05. Honor Guard
06. When I Was A Boy
07. Cowboy Curtains
08. Heavenly Bones
09. Heart Of Wax
10. I Fall You Fall
11. Tomorrow From Heaven
12. Just One Kid (Takes On The World)
13. To Wake Up June
14. Future Boy (Reprise)