JAM Magazine CD Review

April , 2016
Review by Tim Taylor

Blue October


Up/Down Records

When a new Blue October record is released, it's hard to measure whether the fans are more excited about the music or a glimpse into the mind of Justin Furstenfeld, who has become one of the most captivating figures in rock over the last decade. Through his brutally honest lyrics on the last few albums, we've learned about depression, addiction, Bi-Polar Disorder, the anger and frustration that comes from a bitter divorce and custody battle, and redemption. On Home, we find Justin in a much better place; four years sober, infatuated with his wife, three children who light up his world, and a love for life like few have ever experienced. While some long-time fans have expressed concern that Furstenfeld's songwriting would turn to fluff due to his newfound bliss, one listen to Home will put those worries to rest.

The melodies on Home were written on a portable keyboard while Furstenfeld travelled through the desert, and he had to know that the piano riff he wrote for "Coal Makes Diamonds" would be the perfect way to open and set the tone for this record. With the big drums, crunching guitars at the right moments, and infectious chorus, it's an instant Blue October classic. Matt Novesky's distorted bass line mixed with a dreamy synthesizer and beautiful vocal harmonies on "Driver" add a new dimension to the band's sound, while "Heart Go Bang," which is essentially a love letter from Justin to his wife, has a more familiar Blue October vibe to it. "I Want It" is an inspiring tale of perseverance, and "Break Ground" is a moving look into the thoughts of a person suffering from depression.

With each brilliant lyric, the band sets the mood perfectly. Jeremy Furstenfeld's drums are more up front in the production than ever before, most notably with the hard rock groove of "Houston Heights" and the crushing climax of the dark and heavy "Leave it in the Dressing Room (Shake it Up)".  Ryan Delahoussaye has traded in the violin for keyboards on most of this record, turning "Time Changes Everything" into an epic masterpiece and laying the foundation for tracks like "The Lucky One" and "We Know Where You Go". Justin Furstenfeld's vocals and guitars are perfection, as he always knows how to convey the emotions driving each song. It takes a special kind of singer to go from the perspective of a sweet, adoring father pouring his heart out to his family on the title track and lead single "Home" to the enraged and ferocious rocker that you hear on the heavier songs on the record.

Every time I listen to Home, something new pops out at me. There are subtleties and intricacies in each song that make them a new experience whenever you play them. This album is an incredible journey of experience, struggle, love, and joy from the heart and soul of arguably the most passionate singer/songwriter in rock music. This is a more mature sound for Blue October, and you won't just hear the songs. You'll feel them. The band feels like this is the best record they've ever done. The more I listen to it, the more I agree with them.

Get Home at BlueOctober.com »