The Good Life – Novena on a Nocturn

The Good Life
Novena on a Nocturn

You know Tim Kasher from his other project as lead singer and guitarist for Cursive. In that band, he poured his heart out to dynamic, powerful and emotional rock. The Good Life is his side project, and these nine songs are culled from dozens he has written that didn’t suit Cursive. In fact, these songs are all so personal, so emotional, that he could really only do them with a new project.
And we are lucky that he did, for The Good Life is definitely not Cursive, and you wouldn’t want it to be. Kasher has always had one of the most unique voices in indie rock, with the ability to go from a hushed and broken whisper to a full-out cry of feeling and energy. With The Good Life, you get more of a sense that Kasher is singing from the heart, and he does it in a more quiet and subtle setting than the often dynamic rock of Cursive.
Keyboards are vital here, and they are layered with the guitars and bass to create more of a full sound than straight-out rock. It’s no coincidence that The Good Life was opening for The Gloria Record recently, because like The Gloria Record, The Good Life creates a full sound that is all about the whole rather than just the way the parts work together. And while these songs might be a bit lighter and more lofty than Cursive, they do rock.
The album starts out about as quiet as possible, with Kasher singing alone, and slowly the soft drums come in, then the keyboards, and finally the song takes off, softly swaying and oh-so-lovely. The keyboards and vocals are so wonderfully layered here. “The Moon Red Handed” is simply glorious, with a light but lofting rhythm, layered pianos, and the most wonderful flow. “Your Birthday Present” has some very light guitar and piano that merge to a very light sound that belies the serious lyrics: “Did you cry when Winter’s hands stole you from that fetile grave? Did your Mother hold you dear to ease the burden of your pain? Swallowed out into the light – Happy Birthday.” Despite the more electronic-sounding drums, “An Acquaintance Strikes A Chord” comes across sounding more folk-inspired and more gentle, while “Twenty Two” uses electronic beats and noises to feel a bit more spacey and yet powerful, with some strings thrown in even. Things pick up a bit more on “What We Fall For When We’re Already Down,” probably one of the closest to being a slower Cursive song, only the keyboards are a nice touch. “Waiting on Wild Horses” is a very light, lilting song, using sweet-sounding keyboards, acoustic guitar, and a soft beat, and even Kasher’s vocals seem moderated and tightly restrained here. “The Competition” is a soft ballad, just Kasher’s voice and piano, quite beautiful and deep and telling something of a tragic story. The final track, “A Golden Exit,” is probably the most lasting track here, light and airy and so wonderful. As Kasher sings “I can feel the winter coming” followed by backing “la-la-la-la,” you can honestly feel the emotion of the song. It’s a wonderful ending.
Probably one of the things I’ve admired most about Cursive and Kasher in general is his ability to spill out his heart, to sing the most emotional and personal lyrics and still sound like his life depends on it. While The Good Life doesn’t have as much of the desperation and power of Cursive, it is probably even more emotional and powerful. This is definitely one of the most lovely and most emotional rock albums you’re going to hear all year.