My 2 Planets: The Other Side of Summer (self-released)

Don’t let the upbeat, poppy music fool you: My 2 Planets comes with a very heavy heart, indeed.

The title suggests that this, My 2 Planets’ third full-length offering, is about the darkening days, after the heat and the haze of summer have passed and the weather’s growing cooler, the nights longer. A close listen to Jim Ousley’s lyrics (as sung by Eric Wulff) confirms that hunch: it’s a looking back, a letting go, a regretting and a forgetting. Don’t let the upbeat, poppy music fool you: My 2 Planets comes with a very heavy heart, indeed.

Beginning the album is “Goodbye, Norman Rockwell,” a farewell to childhood innocence. “But everything looks better in the snow,” Wulff finally sings, and we wonder: it is optimism, or is he merely fooling himself? “Pasadena” begins as a concrete picture of a girl who came by Greyhound, proving Ousley’s strong lyricism; unfortunately, he steps back and the picture blurs as the tale turns generic. “Fortunate Me” is another taste of irony, the tale of a man who wakes alone and lonely, only to proclaim his thankfulness at being free and available; the rain outside, however, tells a different story.

On “Summerdress,” Wulff sings achingly of days gone by; behind his strong vocals, the music ebbs and flows gently. Showing a poetic command of language, Ousley gives us this gem: “Summer is in the breeze,/I found myself/upon my knees/hands on the small of your back/And I dream dream dream/of that hand-me-down summerdress.”

The upbeat “Seven Stories High” features a textured guitar and a steady beat, its message both optimistic and bittersweet. Wulff sings sweetly of the need to change his life: “I’m going to stop pretending that I’m fine/Looking at the wreckage left behind/You deserve all the love that’s true/so I’m letting go of you.”

“Compass” is a gentle love song; “Down With the Silence,” a more upbeat pop number, has been a part of the M2P live set for some time. “The Bells of St. Theresa” begins, appropriately enough, with the chiming of bells and continues to tell a somber tale of childhood abuse and neglect against the backdrop of a foot-tapping melody.

The highlight of the disc’s second half has to be “If,” a rocking protest against racism. Earl’s Jimmy Kennedy lends his harmonica as Wulff stretches his vocal abilities to new heights as he implores, “If you could untie me/you could understand me.” “Mercy Tonight” closes the album with a gentle plea for domestic peace. The bongo drum and flamenco guitar lend a worldly feel, while the vocal harmonies evoke something of a Beatles feel. “I don’t want to fight about it now/let’s just go to sleep,” Wulff croons—and it’s the perfect answer to a long and tiring day.

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