Secondhand Serenade is a one-man emo band consisting of talented singer-songwriter John Vesaly. On his debut album Awake and on this follow up effort, A Twist In My Story, Vesaly is able to produce the fullness of an entire band on his own. He is a master of layering and texturing his instrumentation and vocals by way of multi-track recording to create a rich and vibrant sound. A common technique in his music is the use of acoustic guitar over background chords.
On this album he deviates from his usual method by recording several of the songs with a band. This studio collaboration works well in adding further depth to his finely crafted arrangements. The themes are the typical emo fodder of romantic elation, lovesickness and heartbreak; he plays the lovelorn victim to great affect. Vesaly’s plaintive crooning reaches emotional heights with his introspective lyrics laying bare his vulnerabilities through his poetic verses. The intimacy of the songs is reinforced by the delicate piano and acoustic melodies that pepper the production.
For some listeners Vesaly’s vocals may seem excessively whiney and lugubrious, an exercise in decadent self-pity. The sensitivity may wear on the nerves and the delivery via his boyish voice, stuck in a sort of vocal neoteny, may turn off some listeners. It depends on what you find palatable. If you are receptive to sensitive, vulnerable lyrics and boyish vocals this album will appeal to you. The compelling lyrics show he is a skilled songwriter adroit at vividly evoking those small moments that pack great dramatic weight. But it is up to you if you are going to be receptive to this brand of honesty.
By Shaun Flagg[Rating:3.5/5]