Album Review: Ivan & Alyosha – All The Times We Had

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Ivan & AlyoshaAll The Times We Had
Dualtone Music Group
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Recommended if you like: Dawes, River City Extension, Rogue Valley

6 years is a long time for a band to wait to release their debut album. Ivan & Alyosha has released three EPs to date, and is finally releasing their first full length album, All The Times We Had, on February 26 through the Dualtone Music Group. The band name originated from the classic Russian novel The Brothers Karamazov, by the famed author and psychologist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In 2010, Ivan & Alyosha made an appearance at South by Southwest where they garnered much attention playing at NPR’s All Songs Considered SXSW Preview. The band has been touted with having religious tinges with a very folksy feel to the music. In an interview with NPR in 2011, lead singer Tim Wilson said “This is our best attempt at the Johnny Cash bruiser gospel song. There’s a scripture that says, ‘Everything you do, do it to the glory of God.’ … In a sense, we’re coming from that kind of background, but we wanted to write something a little bit more interesting and a little bit more out of the ordinary to your typical gospel song.”

The opening track “Be Your Man” hits you hard and fast, with the vocals standing out from the beginning. Wilson sings loud and free, proclaiming “I wanna be the man who gets you all the presents underneath your Christmas tree. Well, they’re all from me. And I wanna be the boy who runs and tells his baby every time he skins his knee, or breaks his toe. I wanna be your boy.” The hard hitting drums and slide guitar riff quickly follow up the first verse, engraining the tune deeper into your head with every snare drum hit.

The song that helped bring the band to NPR fame and certainly a fan favorite is “Easy to Love.” Its catchy lyrics usher in a warm feeling into the song that is partnered with the reverb-drenched guitar strumming away in the background. Like a fine wine, this song has become increasingly better as time has passed. The song has moved from a cute acoustic song about love to a well produced song filled with great instrumentation that still focuses on the strong vocals. The evolution of this song has certainly showed the growth and maturity of the band.

The lead single for the release is “Running For Cover.” From the beginning, the feel brings you to a place sonically similar to Dawe’s 2009 release North Hills. The gorgeous harmonies in the chorus, the arpeggiated chords on the guitar and the folky march of the snare are the perfect combination for a head bopping song such as this.

Easily one of the most spiritual songs on the album, “God or Man” is a song talking about their struggle to stay strong in their faith and beliefs through everything that they do. Written almost as an apology to God, Wilson spends the bridge pleading, “Sorry, oh I’m sorry for the things that I have done. I never meant to hurt you and I never meant to run. Everybody’s telling me which way I should go. Believe me when I tell you man, that I already know.”

Track after track stands out on this incredibly well written album, making it well worth the wait for those who have been Ivan & Alyosha fans since the beginning. Despite being in a genre of music that is notoriously known for melancholy lyrics, the uplifting spirit in many of these songs brings a ray of hope to listeners and fellow songwriters.

Rating: 8.8/10

You can stream the album from NPR as well as pre-order the album on iTunes or Amazon. You can also follow Ivan & Alyosha on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

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