The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library – Volume One

The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library – Volume One

Like any other flourishing skill, many musicians believe that in order to improve and progress, practice can never hurt. For a few, this includes consistently releasing music in a timely manner: staying fresh and alert. For others, this includes immersing yourself in various projects where your talents remain attentive and invigorated. While dreaming about the vastness of music Michael J. Epstein realized that creating a cast of women – some chosen because of their outgoing personalities, in spite of their musical ability – would offer the opportunities to attack music with a new perspective. A literal professor on hearing science, as The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, Epstein and Co. have delivered Volume One for a project that looks to have many solid moments in the future.

Writing all of the music, save for one song, Epstein benefits from being able to incorporate his inflecting style on the album’s music. As expected the songwriting is eccentric and idiosyncratic in allowing awkward rhymes and subject matter based on real life to dictate the flow. On “Stranger” Epstein and his background singers sing about the strange reality of being alive and how the weirdness around us causes us to act out: “sometimes I run away, for the rush of coming home.” Pop sensibilities intact, the music is easygoing and unassuming. This works especially on songs like “Amylee,” where they can nestle for a two-minute ride before growing old.

Playing true to his vision on what the culmination of women and instruments would be, Epstein’s songs are whimsical and reminiscent of chamber music with a blend of your standard guitar, bass and drums sprinkled in with some ukulele, glockenspiel and flute, to name just a few, thrown in as well. “The Weeping Song” threads with a folk undercurrent that is introduced with a string collection of instruments. The female vocals are a swift touch and with a dramatic flair – flowing with a bellow of low tones – the song rises. Epstein makes full use of his ensemble with additional support, in the form of hand-claps (like on the aforementioned), noticeably apparent throughout. Even “Civil Engineering”’s rugged country chug is accompanied with light mallets and a fluttering flute. As the band sings “No they don’t talk at all, they go la la la,” it recalls The New Pornographers with carefree ease.

Like that fluid ease – most of the songs wistfully travel by – the music on Volume One is mostly a ten-song collection of a project that seems to be driving in the right direction. Epstein is aware of his restraints and polishes the music with tender touches that might be a lulling flute on one song and plain-spoken choruses on other songs. Regardless, an ever-working musician that surrounds himself with talented, intelligent people, the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library is a solid side project/adventure for Epstein to hang his hat on.