Album Review: Transients (by Foreverinmotion)

Foreverinmotion: TransientsImage

Available January 14, 2014


            I recall a movie I watched years ago, Shadowlands, about the life of C.S. Lewis.  During a particularly poignant scene, two characters are discussing the merits of reading.  One character turned to the other and offered this theory on why people enjoy books: “We read to know we’re not alone.” Simple, succinct, yet so true. It’s for this very reason that so many people are drawn to certain genres of music.  It’s a thrill, an excited rush, that flows through us when we discover a song that expresses what we’re feeling, yet for whatever reason can’t put into words.

            This is why, even though I tend to have favorite songs versus favorite artists, that  I enjoy Foreverinmotion so much. Brendon Thomas (who uses the moniker Foreverinmotion when pursuing his musical endeavors) has made a career out of putting into words the secret thoughts that run through our minds in those rare times when we are surrounded by quiet.  Even though he has progressed from the stripped-down style of his first and self-titled album, his fourth album, Transients, is still true to Thomas’ voice.  For those not familiar with Thomas, I’d like to recommend three songs to give you a sense of the kind of music you can expect: “Winter Stars” from his first and self-titled release, “Flight 268” from his sophomore effort The Beautiful unknown, and finally “Rise and Fall” from his 2012 album Sunrise.  If you’re a fan of the catchy melodies or incredible singing of Guster or either of the McCartney men (James or his father Paul), you’ll find yourself finding glimmers of their styles in Thomas’ work.  Where Thomas shines, though, is not just in the music but also in the stories he weaves, much like the tales Billy Joel or Villagers set to music. 

            Whereas his first couple of albums are reflective of the simplicity of life in a small town in Vermont where Thomas grew up, Transients paints a picture of living in the hustling and bustling atmosphere of New York City.  You get the sense that the album is a scrapbook of Thomas’ time in The Big Apple, including the good, the bad, and the dysfunctional.  The album artwork is an aerial view of the city, an almost-detached look, while the eight songs that comprise the just-under 42 minutes of Transients are anything but.  The title track, “Transients,” begins the album with sounds of the city and the verse, “I developed an early addiction to movement” and continues with “Feels like I landed on some other planet every time I return home,” something that anyone who has left a small town for life in a city, or life on the road, can relate to.  “Transients” could easily be a theme song for anyone who loves life on the road, and for a musician who named himself Foreverinmotion. 

            After “New York City” (a love/hate song that could apply to a lover or to the city itself) and “Rain In The Afterlife” (a wonderfully melodic piece that is as captivating as it is surreal), you are once again presented with street noise, sirens, and then the lyrics of “Trials” that transcend the fluff of the Top 40: “My greatest truth rests on a bed of miles. So many miles I’ve lost count, but numbers won’t bring me down. There’s no measurement for how you’d see this world through my eyes.”  Once the first four songs have finished, it seems like the album shifts from looking at the city to looking at leaving the city.  “Lightning” is a rocker that could easily be an outtake from Paul McCartney’s modern masterpiece Flaming Pie or Guster’s seminal Ganging Up On The Sun.

            The final three songs that finish the album have a different sound from the rest of Transients, and stand out for this reason.  “Flesh, Bone, Blood” is a well-told tale with some superb lyrics: “When I was a child, I was afraid to die. When I was a man, I was afraid of life. When I was just atoms, I was ready for anything.”  The song features Thomas with an acoustic guitar until about halfway through, and then adds a piano and banjo, and the simplicity matches the mood of the song perfectly.  Foreverinmotion songs have an uncanny ability to make you think about life and your place in it while enjoying the journey into your own head.  “Flesh, Bone, Blood” does not disappoint in this respect.

            “Wild Animals” is perhaps the darkest song on the bunch, with a message of retreating from everything but what’s important, such as feelings and nature.  Inspired by living in a large city, perhaps, but the song serves as a perfect picture of why leaving New York City is important to Thomas.  Lastly, “Fever” is a perfect song to end the album. “I’ve had my brushes with the truth like a passing ship on the horizon coming into view.  As it drew closer it showed me my fears, not of the land nor the sea but this mirage I’ve constructed through the years.”  If Transients is the closing of Thomas’ New York City chapter, “Fever” is the song that lets us know that Foreverinmotion is on the move once again, looking for the next adventure.

            Fans of Foreverinmotion will not be disappointed with Transients.  It is a showcase of the ever-evolving talent that Thomas brings to each new album, and yet he still manages to not completely abandon what has worked for him in the past.  I’ve always wondered why Foreverinmotion hasn’t yet gotten the national attention that he deserves, and after listening to this album several times, I’m more puzzled than ever. In the meantime, I’ll just have to sit back and enjoy Transients again.  


Standout tracks: “Flesh, Bone, Blood,” “Rain In The Afterlife,” “Transients”


~ by Jennifer Dodge on January 15, 2014.

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