In a week with scant new music releases, I decided to utilize the last issue of the semester to review an album I found personally significant in 2014. Rather than reviewing what I feel was the best all-around album, or even a personal favorite, I decided to review the album I replayed the most throughout the year.
My most-played album of the year is Everything is Beautiful by Kurt Travis, a rather unlikely choice. Everything is Beautiful is the first full-length solo album by Travis. The singer is known for his roles in post hardcore bands over the years but not for his vocal range. While he has a nice voice, one would think it would be too weak to carry a solo album.
The album turns out to be Travis’ most revealing and inventive musical project to date despite having a focus on catchy pop songwriting. The instrumentation is impressive enough to level out any lack of range in Travis’ vocals and offers variety.
Tracks like “Overthinking” find Travis crooning the simplest of lyrics over up-tempo guitar twinkling in a way that is catchy without being trite.
Other up-tempo tracks like “Casting Dreams” boast an amalgamation of soul-inspired guitar work, cymbal patterns, and complimentary synths.
Even on slower tracks, Travis opts for a simplistic approach to his lyrics and vocals. In a bizarre way it works for him in a way it does for no other artist. Any other artist with the same lyrics and vocal range would fail to keep my attention, but something intangible about Travis’ songwriting really blossomed in 2014 with Everything is Beautiful.
Acoustic guitar-laden “Everything is Horrible” is perhaps the catchiest song I have heard all year despite its juvenile lyrics.
Travis structured an album perfectly around his middle-of-the-pack singing style and simpleton lyrics to create a sound that will have him held in regard as a great songwriter.
In theory, this album should have been everything I would hate about music. Every song is simple, and each was made with the intention of being catchy.
Simple vocals, simple concepts—everything is simple. Yet, Travis was able to exploit the skills he has enough to create an album as a whole that is much more complex than the individual parts that went into it.
With Travis’ vision and excellent complimentary guitar work by Zach Garren, Everything is Beautiful is a rewarding listen that suits any mood.