Artist: Levy and the Oaks
Album: Levy and the Oaks
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 10/14/2016
For an INFP like me, it’s nice to find someone whose experience matches my own. Levy & The Oaks and their eponymous first album have a solid understanding of that sighing, overthinking introspection that’s all too familiar to people like me. Their capacity for empathy aside, I just wish they made better music…
For almost the entire length of this brief, eight song album, I found myself wanting to fully enter in, to throw myself into this music and pretend I was a passive, emotion-stricken teenager again, crying at the simultaneous beauty and ugliness in the world – but I just couldn’t. Part of this is due to the fact that my teenager years are now more than two decades behind me. But the rest is squarely on Levy and his ever-present Oaks’ shoulders. At the end of the day, I’d rather listen to Sufjan Stevens.
The basic problem with Levy & The Oaks is not that it’s sentimental, cheesy or embarrassingly twee. It is all those things, but they can be, at worst, forgiven and, at best, celebrated. It’s not lack of commitment, either. Levy & The Oaks have a fresh face and a naïve optimism that, while it’s no longer refreshing in this day and age, is still pretty charming.
I’ll explain the problem with a metaphor: Levy & The Oaks shoots for the moon but only barely clears the top of the trees. With almost every track, they came so close to moving my emotions. “Out of the Blue,” “Father’s Watch” and “That’s Me” all try incredibly hard to be the best song you’ve ever heard, and their effort and dedication are admirable. They try a different approach with “Love With the Lights Off,” sneaking up on you with a quiet, less-is-more attitude. All of those almost work, but not quite, and I found myself like a high school gym teacher cheering on a chubby kid trying to run a marathon. At last, with “You Had Me There,” the cosmic tumblers click into place, and Levy & The Oaks finish the race in record time. Good for them.
-N. Neal Paradise