Putois – The Thinking Fireplace

Putois
The Thinking Fireplace

The acoustic guitar is a brilliant instrument. It will never cease to be played, and it will never cease to sound wobbly, insecure, and beautiful. To be frank, it is the essential instrument for people who like to be sad. Bob Mason (The man who is Putois) takes this idea and runs on The Thinking Fireplace, making an album that is, above all else, sad.
The instrumentation here isn’t really that complex: it’s 90% acoustic guitar and 10% occasional percussion, keys, and second guitar. The vocals aren’t too crazy either, as Mason’s range is nearly identical to the one John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls possesses. This makes for a very simple, straightforward album.
But sometimes simple is good. Most of the songs here are slow ballads that churn with emotion, and unless you’re Switchfoot, ballads are best when they’re stripped down to bare minimums. There are occasional louder songs here and there, but the best work here is slow and drifting. A perfect example would be the delicate “River,” which is an honest, pure outpouring of emotion on both the vocal and musical front. If you were listening to it during a sunset (which I am), it creates a pristine moment. “Sometimes I” is another perfect example of sad glory, as the darker, brittle guitar sets off the delicate, simple lyrics coming from Mason’s throat.
It would be totally wrong in the eyes of the music world to call this emo, but this is a lot more emotional than most of the ’emo’ out there today. Bob Mason and his acoustic guitar can make you mellow and sad. But it’s a happy sort of sad, the one that you can’t really put an explanation to. This album makes you feel good. And isn’t that what music is supposed to do?