Hearing Aide: Ian McCuen ‘Songs of Fleeting Permanence, Vol. III’

Curl up, get warm and fall into a world of self discovery, an introspection that Ian McCuen has created. McCuen of Buffalo will release the third installment of his album, Songs of Fleeting Permanence, on November 22, once again capturing a daunting but beautiful atmosphere that anyone can relate to – the feeling of confusion and self exploration that we have all felt at some point in our lives. 

McCuen has created these last three albums virtually by himself, in his bedroom using using only a laptop, two microphones, and every instrument he could find in his house. His ability to create such an impressive and professional sound under these conditions is jaw-dropping. Yes, technology can give anyone with a computer an opportunity  to reach stardom, but it takes a certain level of creativity, wisdom and soul to do what McCuen has done. He created feelings and sensations that people can relate to lyrically, but most impressively, instrumentally. The timbre of every instrument is ideal for the melancholy mood devised; it brings the whole thing home. 

A genre like this, with such small orchestration of instruments, can become redundant. But each of the 11 tracks are truly unique, despite using minimalist chord exploration. Defining each track is a well balanced use of major and minor sounds, a colorful use of picking and strumming styles as well as unique percussion choices. The oscillation between these stylistic choices result in an album you can listen to all the way through. There is one thing that could use some balancing; the instrumentation can over power McCuen’s voice at times. When the lyrics are this deep, it’s important to embellish them with a bit more annunciation. 

When McCuen composed a song as enthralling as “Buried At Sea,” filled with immersive instrumentation and builds, it overpowers his voice. But when you hear McCuen’s deep lyrics, “..bury me at sea, there’s nothing left for me,” it sucks listeners into the storyline, searching for more. In less complex tracks like

“Don’t,” you hear his wispy, spine-tingling voice speak:  “Don’t want your pity, don’t want sympathy, don’t want your advice on how I’m supposed to be. Don’t need constant scrutiny, don’t you know this is all just chemistry.”

“Don’t,” – Songs of Fleeting Permanence, Vol. III

We hear more very honest lyricism in “Giving Up.” “I give up so easily. I can’t seem to follow through with what’s required of me. When I quit on everything else. It’s only a matter of time before I quit on myself.” It takes courage to listen to. These lyrics are revealing and personal, another reason why this album merits respect and attention. 

This style of music is hard to swallow sometimes. Listeners will need to be in a similar mindset of McCuen’s trials, relating to being twenty-something. If not, the album will draw you to that space. But, we could all use a little self reflection, and listening to someone else’s troubles can bring us some peace, knowing that this was McCuen’s creative outlet that allowed him to work towards a place of homeostasis.

Key Tracks: Buried At Sea, Don’t, Love Lost, No. VI

Give Songs of Fleeting Performance a try on November 22 with Soundcloud, Spotify and Bandcamp. In the mean time, listen to the single off the album “Love Lost, No. VI” on his Bandcamp page.

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