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REVIEW: Andy Grammer’s Magazines or Novels reveals a darker side of his life

Andy Grammer says he had a particular agenda with his sophomore effort: get up close and personal with his fans. Even though the pop/rock crooner only has one album under his belt, he was intent on exploring different musical themes and making sure he made an honest and candid statement with the project. Magazines or Novels explores that purpose and walks a thin line between everything we’ve already heard before and everything we still want to listen to.

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Lead single “Back Home,” a loud, bar-friendly sing-along about celebrating hometown roots and friends, reintroduces us to Grammer since his debut three years ago and offers an honest look at how the former street performer feels about his life post-fame. “When I came back home, I was questioning in myself: Have things changed?” he admitted during an interview. Thankfully, Grammer got the reassurance that he was hoping for and proudly boasts about supportive friends, singing lines like”The city won’t change us / We beat to the same drum / No, we won’t forget where we came from.”

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Grammer sprinkles a variety of lyrical themes throughout Magazines or Novels. While he plays up his lust for women (even though he’s married) on the country-pop hoedown “Baby, I’m Good,” he switches it up and assumes the role of sweet husband on the retro-sounding “Forever,” using his easy-breezy falsetto to sing about how long his girl takes to get ready. He doesn’t just put his love life on the table, however, but also his family turmoil. Magazines or Novels’ most personal note comes on “Sinner,” when Grammer passionately sings about his mom, who passed away six years ago. The song stands as a testament to Grammer’s surprisingly bold pen game, with lyrics that read like entries from a deeply personal journal.

Despite the lyrical expansion, there are many moments like “Rey Eye” that serve as a reminder that Grammer’s sound and brand come off like a movement we’ve gone through before. It’s a sound that we’ve been hearing for years courtesy of Maroon 5, Mumford and Sons and the recent American Idol winners. It’s all been done before. Still, there are moments on Magazines or Novels that take a dive into Grammer’s mind to produce something a little more refreshing.

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Closing track “Kiss You Slowly” is an ambient, mid-tempo cut where Grammer sings about how his music can be used to comfort a lover while he’s not around. “And my vocals tickle your ear / and you almost can feel me here / and my piano will kiss you slow tonight,” he sings on the hook. It’s a breath of fresh air and a benchmark that proves Grammer has much more up his sleeve.

Magazines or Novels will be released on Tuesday.

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