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May 24, 2024

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The Mysteries of Life
Come Clean (RCA Records)

By: Alex Steininger

At the heart of the band is husband and wife duo Jake Smith and Freda Love. From there, various members of other Indiana bands help fill out the line-up. "Everybody knows everybody," explains Jake. "There's always crossover between who's playing with who."

A pop-rock combo with a good sense of what rock n' roll is about ("...rock n' roll has no meaning..."), their latest album is a fourteen cut slab of melodic hooks, captivating vocals, and nice lyrics that compliment the music well.

"Tell Me" quickly grabs your attention, as the percussion and guitar work together to get your feet moving. Shaking your body along with the music, the vocals soon enter in and take the song into a different direction. Musically, the direction is still the same, but with the addition of the vocals the life and blood of the song are expanded ten fold. A lot of feelings are conveyed through the vocals, giving the words a strong push inside your head. Backed by delicate hooks, the song has you singing along and shaking your hips with the music. Beautiful streaks of organ and piano help round the song out, giving it additional tools to allow you to stumble over.

Moving onto "Fingerprint," they 'come clean' with another pop number that will mesmerize you all too quickly. The jumpy guitar grabs your body and starts shaking you, while the vocals rattle around in your head. And, this is just the opening portion of the song. From there, they don't even have to work because you're already hooked. But, of course, they keep the hooks flowing and the melodies as lush and juicy as possible. I tried to resist, but I couldn't help moving along to this song. Even as I sit here and write this, the song has me shaking in my chair. My conclusion, though, is that it will do the same to you. So don't laugh at me until you've experienced the song, because you'll react the same exact way.

Thriving on the strength of the viola, "A Year Ago Today" is a gracious combination of nice string work, strong vocals, and sweet guitars. Light percussion and a modest bass help round out the sound, as well. Living off the strings, the song pushes right for your heart. The emotional combination of the vocals and the viola are too hard to resist, and, together, they have no problems delivering to you a song that is thought out and honest.

Closing out with "Southdowns," the disc ends in with a slow, gentle tone. The sing-along pop hooks aren't present, but the down-home, 'sitting-on-the-porch-and-reminiscing' feeling more than makes up for it. As the disc (and song) nears an end, you'll be fully relaxed and comfortable. Too bad though, because you'll want to get up and play the disc again. Better get a remote control for that CD player!

Stating on their bio that "nothing here is unfamiliar, but everything is remarkably new," I was quickly leery. I've heard that several hundred times over, and never believe it. But this time was different. The Mysteries of Life sound is primarily acoustic pop, but there were a lot of up-tempo and spirited hooks that elevated everything about the standard sound in that genre. Making good on that claim, I was impressed. I'll give this disc an A-.

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