Release Date - Febrary 19, 2007
It’s been quite a rise for Secondhand Serenade (real name John Vesely). After eight years of playing in endless bands as a journeyman bass player, Vesely recorded an acoustic demo and quickly became myspace.com’s number one unsigned artist with over 27 million plays. The unsigned part didn’t last long as Glassnote Records quickly took notice and re-released Secondhand Serenade’s self-produced acoustic debut album, Awake.
Now, less than a year later, Secondhand Serenade is back with A Twist in My Story. Produced by Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails) and Butch Walker (Avril Lavigne, All American Rejects), Twist finds Secondhand Serenade playing with a full band for the first time.
The results are a stark contrast to Awake. Whereas Awake was acoustic and stripped down, Twist features strings and complex, lush arrangements worthy of a Brian Wilson production. Twist’s pretty arrangements provide an interesting backdrop for its often dark, emo lyrics.
The album leads off with “Like a Knife,” a moving song about love gone wrong with Vesely pleading “stay with me” and “without you, I can’t breathe.” He knows he’s messed up and wants his second chance. Vesely delivers the lyrics with such conviction you really do feel his pain (Listen/Download).
The ballad “Fall for You” follows a similar theme, with Vesely vowing to fall for his girl all over again and happy they’re not fighting for once. The song starts with just vocals and piano, with the band driving the choruses (Listen/Download).
Songs such as “Maybe” (Listen/Download) and “Stranger” (Listen/Download) demonstrate Vesely’s pop songwriting prowess, with endless hooks and choruses that stick in your head long after the last note fades.
While Twist mostly sticks with ballads and radio-friendly pop, the band does rock out a bit on “Suppose,” to great effect (Listen/Download). Vesely would be wise to consider exploring more of this side of his songwriting on future releases.
If there’s a negative on Twist, it’s the lack of guitar solos. There aren’t any, and while the solo is not en vogue these days, some of these songs really call for one. Still, it’s the songs that matter, and these songs are good. Vesely clearly has a lot of talent and should be around for a long time if he continues to follow his muse.