Geoff Koch | If It Feels Good, Don’t Do It (s/r)

cd_koch.jpgThis album delivers on the promise of the evolution that every roots-rock or alt-country band this side of Uncle Tupelo has hoped to birth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert first. Sans dressed-up language and nuance, this record gets an A-minus. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly modern American rock ‘n’ roll. This is the sound of the flat world influencing the music of the flatlands. It’s sentimental, it’s heroic, it’s down home and sophisticated. It’s everything people want their favorite singer-songwriter to be but don’t dare claim, because they know there’s this one thing other people will take issue with, be it the vocals, the production, the politics, you name it.

I don’t have any qualms saying that this album delivers on the promise of the evolution that every roots-rock or alt-country band this side of Uncle Tupelo has hoped to birth. Not one of those bands has made St. Louis the hotbed we’ve hoped it would become, and neither will Geoff Koch, but that’s not what he’s here for. We’re forever jilted, and Geoff Koch has given us a break-up album so we can get over the record industry once and for all. We don’t need her—or him, if that suits you. It’s time to move on. We can do better if only we give ourselves the opportunity. If It Feels Good, Don’t Do It is the sound of that opportunity being spotted and seized, its potential actualized.

The embellishments on If It Feels Good—the strings, the alto harmonies, the harmonica, the sheer beauty of the ballads, the arrangements, and stellar musicians who shine bright without obscuring one another; none of it disappoints. The clarity and immediacy of the vocals, passionate and pained by inspirations, is the testimony of a man with conflicts and convictions as epic as my favorite songs on this album. This is the sound of Pyrrhic victory. This is the story of proud but flawed land, full of a myriad of people who resemble it in spirit and constitution.

If you the are kind of person who listens to Harvest or After the Gold Rush and feels a sense of validation, you will understand why this record is the redemption of some long-unclaimed debt modern music owes the Gateway city. The sentiment of If It Feels Good is the embodiment of resentful mourning. We will wave our fists at the heavens until a cold rain falls to mask the tears we shed for those we lost, the ones we will honor with the steadfastness of two hearts and two souls in one body. If you wear one on your sleeve, this record will move you to tears, and you will not be ashamed. If you pound yours in defiance, ever vigilant against all that ails you, this record is the soundtrack of your life. Step back and take it in; it’s a beautiful thing. A- | Willie E. Smith

RIYL: Neil Young, Ryan Adams, Counting Crows, Elliott Smith

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