I Love You and I’m Sorry LP
I started trying to write a review of Jacob Brodovky’s debut album, I Love You and I’m Sorry, six times before finally electing to do what the album does and just opening with a bit of candor: on my first play through the album, I was absolutely blown away. I knew I liked it, all I had to do was find a way to artfully explain why – but I couldn’t. Each of the potential angles I tried felt false or contrived and, by extension, that felt dishonest. As it would turn out, the only way to articulate my appreciation for this album was to be as direct as both the artist and the music themselves; there is nothing artificial or contrived about the music in any of the songs on I Love You and I’m Sorry. Every note which appears in every song on this album needs to be here. There is a power and a passion about the music which binds it together; it is beautiful and artful and is capable of the hearts of everyone who hears it.
Here are all the ways in which the album utterly won me over.
From the first moment that the proverbial needle drops on the A-side of I Love You and I’m Sorry – after we hear Brodovsky do a quick breath test on his mic – listeners may pick up a certain similarity between Brodovsky John Darnielle’s excursions with The Mountain Goats insofar as there being a spectacular intimacy about the song. Listeners will find themselves leaning in – straining to catch every syllable of lines like, “I spent my Sunday buying clothes that I’ll outgrow/ This jacket sewn by children out of fairly traded wool/ I don’t mind, I spend a lot of time putting books back on the shelf/ ‘Cause knowing things does nothing for me and my mental health” because, somehow, it seems to knit a thing for them that they can treasure. Saying something like, “it completes them” would be laughably trite, but it definitely fabricates a sensation in listeners that they’ll treasure, when it’s done, and it only took about four minutes to complete. The album follows along after that opening with “Night Baker” and, there, Brodovsky finds a way to wire some leaner instrumental styling a la Mountain Goats with some understated but spectacular vocal caprice (think Graceland era Paul Simon, and you’ll be on the right track), and presents something which is completely impossible to mimic: simultaneously spectacular and very, very small, Jacob Brodovsky finds a new bridge between the mainstream and the underground that is all his own. With his own bridge, it feels as though anything is possible and, for listeners, the promise of what that might mean as they look forward beyond “Night Baker” to what else might be on the album will have them interested to find out.
Listeners don’t have to wait long to find out. “Blockbuster” follows “Night Baker” with some dimmer, end-of-the-night tones which compliment lyrics like “I still think about our best years/ I’m not sure what’s worse/ Or watch them disappear” and still hold listeners hypnotized (because the song is more than the sum of its parts) and then Brodovsky dips his toe into going “full Darnielle” as he creates a thoroughly flawed character who is still really easy to fall in love with for “Weatherman” before “Likewise” seems to just level with listeners at the end of the side. There, while the song fits in with the rest of the side’s play nicely, Brodovsky just bowls listeners over with a brand of candor and questioning of a completely different level than the singer presented elsewhere (the opening lines of the song say it all – check out, “You’ve changed/ You’re thinner/ Is this strange? It’s just dinner/ You’re on guard. I know I have myself to blame./ Is this hard?”), and listeners will be right with him – completely renewed and engaged – as the needle lifts. As solid as the side has been to this point, “Likewise” elevates the album’s play dramatically in time for the side to close and, when the needle lifts, listeners will be there – ready to flip the record over and renew the play on the B-side so they can see what it has for them.
…And, while the B-side opens with a much leaner-feeling tone (somehow, the album’s title track feels like it’s lifting elements from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson – but it features a fraction of the inspiration that the A-side of I Love You and I’m Sorry exhibited), the second cut on the side, “Class of ’99,” finds a way to present the colors of domesticity in a proud and fresh light. There, as Brodovsky gently strums an acoustic guitar, keys and drums of a caliber from which no Wallflowers fan will be able to turn away flesh out the mix and win the last hearts which may have had any reservations about the singer. After that, “Get So Mad” takes the running in a more Country direction without losing the heart it had so firmly established previously before trying to completely change the game with “A Song Called Blame” – the only unabashed rock song on the album – and settling down again to close the album with “Summertime Blues.” Of course, with a title like that, listeners will expect something more upbeat or something which fits the season for which it’s named and feels a little warmer but, in fact, the string section which infiltrates the mix of the song gives it a weary and slightly disheartened overtone as well as a feeling of finality for the album as a whole. It’s effective in that it does bring the album to a solid close but, after having reached some of the peaks that listeners found in some of the other songs on I Love You and I’m Sorry, “Summertime Blues” leaved listeners with a sense of solemnity that is perfectly unexpected, as the last notes of the song play out.
As darkly as the album may close, it’s important to point out that “Summertime Blues” will not leave an irredeemable taste in the mouths of those who play from front-to-back with I Love You and I’m Sorry. Rather, the darkness at the end provides an impressive contrast for the brighter spots in the other songs on the album; the darkness at the album’s close will make listeners want to return to the moments of earlier brightness again. When listeners realize that, they’ll also recognize the amount of craft that has obviously gone into those earlier cuts and marvel at the fact that this is Jacob Brodovsky’s debut album – normally, musicians have to hammer the knicks and dings out of their style for a while before they can hope to come close to a result as good as this. [Bill Adams]
I Love You and I’m Sorry is out now. Buy it here, directly from the artist.