Anyone who’s ever questioned their purpose (so all of us) will relate to the sentiments laid out in TJ Foster’s recent release First Person, Volume One. The album unfolds like a diary decorated with a mix of acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica and occasional drums. Each song explores the obstacles that emerge as people struggle with defining their own identity and finding their place in the world.
The lyrics won’t shock the ear with poetic potency but Foster’s words will validate the listeners’ own questioning of self. The first track, “I Don’t Know,” sets the tone for the album with modest guitar elevated by strong vocal harmonies. The title offers a simple and honest response to the questions that escape our grasp. “57” wrestles with the desire for human connection but hauntingly echoes the chorus “Should I just be alone.” The melancholy ensues with “Basement,” which details a few of the emotional hardships Foster has experienced including losing a friend to suicide and dealing with his parents’ divorce.
“An Ode to my Twenties” surprises the listener with the most upbeat tune on the album, recounting important milestones including graduation, getting married, having two kids, getting a first tattoo, and perhaps most notably, finding a taste for wine. It’s may seem like a minor adult accomplishment, but detecting the subtle nuances in a glass of merlot is an ability often lost on younger drinkers. In “Upside Down,” Foster almost whispers the line “I may act like I’m awake, but I’m perpetually dreaming.” It speaks to the human tendency to be caught up in our thoughts and not actively participating in our own lives, too busy focusing on the negative to revel in the positive.
Though First Person, Volume One offers no comforting solutions to the numerous existential questions it poses, perhaps comfort can be found the questions themselves, as they are familiar to many of us. Released on April 13, the album is available for purchase here.
Key Tracks: I Don’t Know, An Ode to My Twenties, Upside Down