Aaron Einhouse – It Ain’t Pretty Review

As y’all might’ve heard already, Aaron Einhouse has released his new album It Ain’t It-Ain't-Pretty-squarePretty this past weekend, and it marks my first real venture into his music.  I’ve heard a few songs of his on the radio, like Blue Collar Troubadour before, but I hadn’t ever taken the time to listen to his music aside from that.  You can bet I was excited when I got the heads up about it and gave it a listen right away.  In addition to this album and in the process of writing my announcement and initial review of the title track for Episode 22 I took a look at some of his previous work to get a better idea of his overall sound, and I was impressed.  I am really big on emotion and expression in music; music you can feel—that gets you to move—to sing—maybe even to think and cry.  Aaron’s music fits right into that.  Whether I was at home or in the car, It Ain’t Pretty had me wanting to dance and sing along.  And being the only person in my car…  I did—the singing I mean… not the dancing.  I starts off with a bang and takes you for an awesome ride the whole way through.

 

Dancin’

 

It Ain’t Pretty jumps right into it with Dancin’ a fast-paced, rough, rock and roll number all about the life of a touring musician.  Addressing the would-be musician Aaron tells his story what one has to be prepared to do to keep up this type of life.  And he doesn’t pull any punches!  There are the things that make it worth it: being on stage, living the wild life, etc.  But there’s also the bar fights, hangovers, and the heavy feeling like you just can’t do it anymore.  He sings about how that life is not for everyone, but if you can make it work it’s better than any day job.  It’s a high energy song with ragged guitar and bluesy harmonica and Aaron then brings it all together by bookending it with the sounds of the airport and radio and which pretty much also serves as a summary of what will be heard later.

 

That’s What You Get

 

There’s a word that no one likes to think about and that word is ‘consequences.’  Aaron knows that well enough and so he didn’t use it in this song, opting to describe them instead.  Wake up late and hungover?

Einhouse_photo cred Natalie Rhea-7496

Photo by Natalie Rhea

Well what else did you expect when you stayed out all night? Of course that’s just the least of his worries.  With the words of his mother’s warning serving as the title and chorus, this song is a reminder that maybe just a little more thought should be put into our actions…  That’s What You Get is a fun, humorous, gritty song with some clever lyrics.  It’s also really catchy and one of the many songs that had me wanting to drop everything and head to the nearest dance hall.

 

It Ain’t Pretty

 

Love is something people idealize and romanticize the heck out of.  Tales and stories about the perfect lives of couples being happy all the time.  It Ain’t Pretty is a passionate song about the reality of love and how you shouldn’t expect it to be nothin’ but a rose garden.  There are low points, struggles, fights, but ultimately it’s worth the effort.  Throughout the song Aaron contrasts  the high-and-low points with evocative imagery (“soft as silk and hard as steel” along with “winter wind and a summer sun”) and recounts some of his own struggles contrasted with the memories of the idealized life he and his wife shared at the beginning.  It’s a very memorable song with unique guitar solos and some keyboard backing.  I have to admit the initial instrumental hook kind of put me off because it reminded me of the hook that Jason Aldean puts in a lot of his songs, but the rest of the song reminded me of another Aaron that I’m a big fan of.  This song would be a great song to share with someone special.

 

Like Rock N Roll

 

Describing how someone makes you feel is hard sometimes.  There’s so much that goes into a relationship that evoke so many different feelings.  What better way than to describe it than as the music that’s near and dear to your heart.  Like Rock and Roll delivers a more laid back, sincere, jam-like experience where he expresses his what he feels deep down inside towards the one he loves and what she does to make him feel that way. It really shows off his ability to emote and is great to listen to.

 

My Susannah

 

Love can sometimes drive a man to drink and that’s exactly what happens here.  My Susannah tells the story of a heartbroken man who catches his wife cheating and him reminiscing on everything they’ve been through.  Bewailing her betrayal he falls deeper into depression which leads to the song’s chilling end.  It’s a mid tempo waltz that starts off slow and relaxed and builds throughout into a passionate climax.  It’s another song that shows off Aaron’s ability to emote and you can feel the despair the man goes through in every word.  It also has a very similar feel to Shane Smith’s Oil Town which is another song I thoroughly enjoy.

 

The Richest Man

 

Returning to the topic of elderly wisdom, Aaron recounts the stories and warnings of an old man still in the prime of his life despite being 65.  Stories of struggle, pride, change, and gratitude filled with sage advice of the one who lived through it all.  The laid back, reminiscent, more country sound of the song compliments the subject matter really well.  It’s a really relatable song too, I think just about everyone knows or has someone in their family who has those amazing stories about their past and who are content in their old age who you can just listen to for hours.  For me it reminds me of my late godfather who would tell me at length of his time in the military and always had a relevant story if I came to him about my worries or fears.  It brought back really good memories.  This is probably the song that got to me the most.

 

Thinking Of You

 

Slowing it down even more we have another song about lost love.  Thinking of You recounts a relationship that ended suddenly which left a deep impact on the narrator.  A great relationship that was there and gone, but for the life of him he can’t stop thinking about and after so much time he is finally coming to the realization that the whole relationship was one-sided.  With a melancholy swing-y waltz you can really feel the regret and sadness being sung about.  This song brings some extra variety leaning more on the soul side with ts vocals and keyboard accompaniment.

 

On And On

 

Aaron keeps up the theme established in Thinking Of You, but with a more positive spin.  Being on the road can put a huge strain on a relationship and there are stories all over the place about couples reaching the breaking point because of the lack of trust in the relationship.  In On And On Aaron directly addresses his significant other and reassures her that she’s always on his mind no matter where he is and that he will always be hers.  The overall tone of the song is that of reassurance, but the hook seems to communicate a slight longing or regret that he can’t always be there for her due to distance and time and kind of has a Gary Allen feel to it.

 

The Fall of Eli Wilde

 

This song…  If you’re a regular listener to my show you’ll know that I love a good story song. Be it Robert Earl Keen’s The Road Goes On Forever, Shane Smith’s  Moonshine, or Flatland Cavalry’s Coyote (The Ballad Of Roy Johnson) story songs allow musicians to just have fun and spin tall tales about larger than life characters or tug at your heartstrings with tragedies.  The Fall of Eli Wilde falls into the former category.  Detailing the life of Eli Wilde, man of legend who everyone has their own spin on who doesn’t take flack from no one. Until he meets a certain woman, that is…  It’s more of a silly song with a bouncy, funky bass hook and snare drum.  It’s short, sweet, over the top fun with its detailed narration a about Eli’s daring deeds.

 

I’m Done

 

Aaron ends the album by just straight up telling you he’s done. That’s it.  No more music.  Want more?  Too bad.  This is his final album and he wishes everyone the best.  He said the insanity and ups and downs that he sang about in the previous songs were getting to him and wearing him down and that he just couldn’t handle it anymo–
Naw, not really.

 

I’m Done is him finally cutting off a relationship that seemed like the right thing at the beginning, but as time went on and vodka was drunk, ended up being nothing but frustration.  After a short period of happiness the woman revealed her true nature through emotional blackmail and manipulation making him doubt himself.  Finally having enough he has gathered up his to cut the entire thing off.  It’s another mid tempo waltz with a triumphant air to it signifying the freedom he now has after the disastrous relationship he was in.  It’s a heavy hitting song with prominent electric guitar and revival like organ keyboard.  It’s a strong finish to a great album.

 

It Ain’t Pretty was a great introduction to Aaron Einhouse for me and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is new to his music.  The first song Dancin’ sets the stage very well with describing the ups and downs in the life of a musician and then having each subsequent song

Einhouse_photo cred Natalie Rhea-7941

Photo by Natalie Rhea

detailing specific highs and lows.  The thing I liked most about his album is that he has pairs of songs that deal with the same basic subject, but from different frames.  The biggest example of this is the theme shared between Thinking Of You and On And On.  Both tackle the subject of a woman constantly being on his mind, but in Thinking Of You the effort is fruitless and negative while in On And On the feeling is reciprocated and he accepts his own part of strain on the relationship.  The other example comes from between the songs It Ain’t Pretty and Like Rock N Roll.  Both speak on the topic of a relationship and what it means.  But while It Ain’t Pretty presents realism, rationality and a warning about over romanticizing it and how real love takes effort and work, Like Rock N Roll gives into the pure emotion felt in a good relationship and the difficulty in expressing it.

The overall tone of the album is down to earth, earnest and raw.  You can clearly hear what emotion Aaron is putting into each song.  From despair to reassurance to the silliness that is The Fall Of Eli Wilde.  It shows off his versatility and the care that he puts into his songs.  Each song is a story unto itself and each one seems to form a greater narrative through the whole album.  The instrumentation was also top notch and appropriate for each song.  His sound will definitely appeal to a lot of people.  I would recommend his music to anyone who likes bands and artists such as Shane Smith and the Saints, Aaron McDonnell, Robert Earl Keen, and Dan Johnson.  He can do everything from Rock N Roll to more Honky Tonk oriented music to Southern Rock with plenty of story songs to satisfy more the more folk oriented listener.

 

www.aaroneinhouse.com

Buy It Ain’t Pretty by Aaron Einhouse on iTunes

Buy It Ain’t Pretty by Aaron Einhouse on Amazon

 

 

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