The Lighter Side of a Charlotte Rocker: Album Review
Music has the ability to push your emotions in different directions. Some styles will pump you up and have you ready for war, others will hit a nerve that gets the tears flowing. With summer here, I like to listen to music that puts me in a relaxed state of mind while sitting out in the sun, just observing the world around me. An album released by local musician Neil Mauney entitled Family Friend has been the go-to album for me lately.
Family Friend is the name of both the album and project by Mauney, who is also from Charlotte bands Pullman Strike and Late Bloomer. Those two groups are very different from this project, though. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and his voice, Mauney, who is accompanied by Geoff White on the mandolin, fiddle and slide guitar, has written some really great songs that slow down the pace from his normal rocking tunes quite a bit. Fans of indie, folk and acoustic music in general will love this album. Most of the songs are short and sweet, clocking in at under four minutes but that doesn’t take away from the the fantastic songwriting on this album.
My favorite track is “Another Life.” This one is toe-tapper with an upbeat chord progression on the acoustic guitar and some smooth melodies on the mandolin. The break to the fiddle towards the end of the tune brings in a nice change-up to the verse and chorus format that dominated the majority of the song. The lyrics touch on going through life on your own terms, just trying to find a way to something better than what’s going on around you. Another of my favorites was “Poetry.” This is a song that focuses on the story of two people and their feelings for one another based around the poetry one writes.
There are a lot of narrative songs featured on this album along the same lines as “Poetry.” The opening song, “Grocery Store,” the slow and emotional tune “Bound to Lose” and the heartbreaking track that closes out the album, “As Long As You’ll Have It” are all focused on what seems to be a great love lost. “Short Life of Trouble” is one that may tug on the hearts of some men affected by lies and heartbreak at the hands of their wives or girlfriends.
Mauney has proven that his ability to write great lyrics has been proven with this album, but the music itself is something to take note. Since this is along the lines of indie and folk, you shouldn’t expect any crazy guitar solos or smashing drums, but you can expect some of the most entrancing, relaxing music you’ve ever heard. With simple strums on the acoustic guitar and backing melodies provided by arrangements of a few different instruments (they mainly just kind of float in the background) Family Friend provides the tried and tested formula of music that never fails – simplicity. With so many artist going out of their way to include all these crazy, intricate, sounds into their music it’s nice to see that someone is playing from the heart rather than for the bank.
Seeing a rise in the genre of folk and indie music over the past few years gives me a feeling that many of you that follow those styles will love this album. Written by one of Charlotte’s own very talented musicians, Family Friend will be a favorite if added to your collection. It’s hard not to get pulled into the emotional music and lyrics sung by Neil Mauney. These songs are capable of reaching your soul and relaxing your mind. You can buy the nine-track album online here for just $3.50!