#16- BLUE OCTOBER: "Sway"
Many bands work their entire career to make THE perfect album. Most don't succeed. Blue October is one of the rare few that do, and they did it with "Any Man In America". That album, their album preceding "Sway" delved into the dark, painful waters of divorce and estrangement from ones you love... in this case, the separation of singer, Justin Furstenfeld, from his daughter, who was caught in the middle of an extremely bitter divorce. Anyone familiar with Blue October knows that Justin is one of the most candid songwriters in popular music, wearing his heart his heart on his sleeve... for better or worse. Because of Justin's honesty about his often ailing mental health, as well as anything that may be happening in his life, Blue October has managed to accumulate a rather rabid cult following, even after only having a couple of Alternative Rock hit singles.
Having nailed their veritable "Dark Side of the Moon" with "Any Man in America", Blue October was faced with the nearly impossible task of following up the perfect album. I didn't have much optimism going into this album, because I have always been a firm believer that the best music comes from the worst circumstances. Fleetwood Mac did it with "Rumours", an album that was laced with the break-up of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. In their case, the follow-up album, "Tusk", was only a fraction of the album that "Rumours" was... even at twice the length. In my opinion, Blue October did better than Fleetwood Mac, in that respect, but it still didn't measure up to "Any Man in October". That said, I was pleasantly surprised (upon first listen) to find that I absolutely LOVED this album, even though Justin was in a seemingly good place. That is, until the song "Hard Candy" penetrated my aural senses. It nearly derailed the album, in my opinion, although the songs that followed helped to regain a little ground, although they still couldn't keep the same momentum as the first half of the album. That said, this album is quite good and definitely in my Top 20 of the year.
Although I wish Justin Furstenfeld all the good that he deserves, I hope something comes along to unsettle him enough to make another gem... another "Dark Side". But, for now, I'd like to just sit back and enjoy the best of what "Sway" has to offer. Why don't you join me...