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The Due Diligence | I Will Wreck Your Life

Album review by John Powell

The Due Diligence | I Will Wreck Your Life

Isaac Gillespie is one of New York’s most palatable, loveable singer/songwriters. Whether live or on record, his voice is wonderfully expressive. Beyond that, he has enough cynicism and sarcasm that he’s somewhat of a hippie Woody Allen troubadour. Beyond that, he’s played with so many other wonderful NYC musicians that it was only a matter of time before he nurtured a super group, which is what The Due Diligence is- and before he made an album of lovable “anti”-folk tunes both timeless and narrative, which is what I Will Wreck Your Life is.

A passion for old school protest songs and even older flavors of simple music with complex lyrics drives I Will Wreck Your Life; lyrically unique in syntax and melody. “Crucifixion”, for instance, is written in this odd alternate reality, when crucifixion was on TV. “So I arrived too late/all the circus tents were down/they reran it on TV,” it goes. “They only shot it from behind.” There’s slide guitar provided by Alex P (of Hank & Pigeon and also the producer of the album). The thing is, the song could either come across as sacrilegious or mocking, but when Isaac sings, of Jesus, “I’ll have to see/if he comes by this way again,” you can’t help but love the man’s insight and bizarre world in his head.

“Pour Pity” is a country lament. Morgan Heringer’s backing vocals are as shy as she is, befittingly complementary to Isaac’s professorial vocals. Anything she does on the record adds resonance to Isaac’s croon. There’s a spoken interlude: “Fellas, you tryin’ to test out these ladies too/Can you stand to be around them for more than, like, an hour at a time?” Jo Schornikow’s piano is a bit honkey tonk, but the music never slides away into too country to handle. The group is a bunch of twenty something Brooklynites, after all.

The band is held together by Colin Fahrner (of Big Tree) on drums and Ben Sadock on bass. Together, they’re clearly having a blast with this album. “Too much cheap booze,” Isaac sings on “The Very First Song”, “has the means and motive to surround me.” It’s kind of funny, kind of sad, and very heartfelt.

A key track is “Antifolk Song”, which begins, “No, we don’t smoke marijuana/no it’s not for our health.” The song is a prime example of Isaac’s self-awareness, not just of his contemporaries, but also especially of city dwellers. “Yes, we are New York Jews,” he sings, “We are the life of the party.” Colin’s snare-rolls are theatrical and the slide guitar is sexy. There’s added strings and horns, making the song one of the fullest sounding. “Good lord, we love our sweet coffee.”

The best track, however, is the title track- a tune Isaac’s played live in one configuration or another for years. The chorus is so catchy that you’ll find yourself singing it’s harsh reality lyrics at inappropriate times, like in line at the bank. “I will wreck your life/not like heroin, but much more like booze!” It’s the story of a brokenhearted man who, instead of getting sad, gets witty. The second verse is just a list of what sort of man the narrator can be accused of. “You may call me a scoundrel/you may call me a braggart/ you may call me an asshole,” it goes. It’s delightful, and the song is set up to have verses that are insightful and the chorus, which comes around often, is meant as a sing-a-long. Anyone appreciating good songwriting should check it out.

I Will Wreck Your Life underwent a Kickstarter program to get it printed on LP record, just to show you Isaac and the crew’s passion for old school music. It’s a great sounding album with nothing lost in the mix. The slide guitar is never overbearing and Isaac has a clear voice. You’ll learn every word very quickly, which is great, because you’ll want to sing with The Due Diligence whenever possible.

Bottom line: These Monsters of Antifolk have achieved a great record of lasting impressions.


 

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