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Andy Ulseth entwines change with music in new album release

We can all relate to the big changes and what the world has delivered to us in the past few years. Now, maybe more than ever, we’ve had the ability to step back and observe our paths. Looking at the artwork for Andy Ulseth‘s album set to release on June 24th, there’s a clever tie-in to that evolution and shift with the way his name is snaked around the power lines.

It’s that small detail that symbolizes the constant pace of life and our grasp of adjusting. A line that doesn’t stop when routine is disrupted. The album was technically finished in March of 2020, but derailed by the times we abundantly try to forget. This giant change, along with becoming a new father, birth an even larger authenticity in the new songs.

Album Artwork

“How We’ve Changed” is a vibrant collection of songs that simmer in Ulseth’s influences. The wordsmith channels the clean honesty of Ben Gibbard, while hearkening the wit of Conor Oberst. His voice stirs up flecks of Paul Simon, with a falsetto that glosses the high end. Instrumentally the album is expertly produced, each part, sound, and moment arranged for maximum effect.

“Highways That Vibrate” starts off the album with Ulseth’s psychedelic vision of wondering what frequencies America’s great highways vibrate at. The lyrics “past the sound of squeaking wheels and rolling trash and orange peels are the tones that only lonely travelers know” lead into a warm chorus and cruise control release.

The prime lyrical content continues at a high frequency through all of the tracks, providing an astute recipe of prose. For those that dive deeper into the meaning of a song, there is plenty of soil to dig into.

“All At Once” is an acoustic lullaby that takes on themes of self-discovery of growing up in a small town. The click-clack of the acoustic guitar draws out the melody and immediately catches your ear. The theme of lines continues in “Someone Longing” with the mention of a clothes line and feeling that imaginary pull of missing a presence.

The sweetness of “Calliope” and “Velveteen” pull in home as Ulseth pines about his lovely wife and pet. The soft harmonies and glow of love travel through on these, sonically it’s a smile. “Arbor Day” hits deeper as it looks at the irony of wooden figurines being sold at a celebration of “tree” day. The piano driven song cleverly supports the importance of life while challenging what we see before us.

Looking back at the past two years, there’s instant recognition of adjustments in all of us. This album lingers in that nod back with songs like “All At Once”, while being present in the future. There’s growth and surprises as suggested in the title track. 

“How We’ve Changed” is a pop-folk addition to 2022 that deserves to be carved into vinyl. Its stories are grooves that literally are cut into a circle of life, profound and circular. Ulseth has a keen knack for word choice and building a collective of beautiful instrumentation around them. As the album artwork suggests, these are songs that will entwine around your power lines, keeping you company through all changes in life.

Tickets still available for the release show at Aster Cafe on June 24th with the admirable Emily Haavik.

Written by Smouse

Having spent 13 years recording and producing Minnesota artists, along with running a small record label, Smouse is a passionate advocate of musicians and artists in Minnesota.

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