Mark Schirmacher New Album: ‘Losing Things’

On the pop music spectrum, Mark Schirmacher leans toward the gentler side. His album Losing Things includes plenty of pretty, fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Furthermore, Schirmacher is also a soft sort of vocalist.

With that said, though, there are exceptions to this rule. One titled “Study of Love” revs up the groove to a train-like folk rock vibe, complete with harmonica. Rather than pick his acoustic guitar, Schirmacher strums it relatively aggressively. “It Won’t Last” also offers some sonic contrast, as this track sounds a bit jazzy. Putting an exclamation point to it, the latter includes a saxophone solo.

On some of the record’s quieter songs, Schirmacher has also added orchestral strings to fill out his recordings. These strings can be heard during “Tomorrow,” and to fuller effect with “It’s a Dream,” which sounds to feature a full-on string quartet, or at least a more robust string section.

The album’s title track is also more of a guitar-strummed song, than a fingerpicked one. It tells the story of a songwriter. Although it’s not entirely clear, this lyric sounds as though it’s about Alzheimer’s, as it talks about a man who’s getting pretty good at losing things. This one incorporates drumming, which is rarely heard throughout the rest of the album, as well as a whistled part. Usually, whistling is a happy sonic element. However, this is by no means a happy song. Instead, it’s filled with moody foreboding, where the listener is suddenly concerned about the man who is the subject of this lyric.

The album closes with “Tomorrow (Reprise),” which is a 2:14 instrumental version of the nearly four-minute vocal-accompanied opening track. Instead of Schirmacher’s singing, the violin takes the melodic part that Schirmacher would have sung. The song “Tomorrow” is gentle, but also a little drone-y in the opening sections before singing begins. It speaks about looking for a person in its lyrics. Maybe it’s an old friend. “I remember what you said in high school/That you’d never leave me/No matter how blue.” Perhaps it’s a memory of an old, high school flame. His search includes mountain streams and dive bars, so Schirmacher makes it sound as though he’s really not sure where this person is now. Mountain streams and dive bars are two environmental extremes. There’s enough mystery in this song, which leaves the listener wondering just whom Schirmacher is singing about. This mysteriousness, though, is one of the reasons it’s so compelling. The song is almost entirely acoustic, and instead of a drum set, it sounds like a lone bongo is utilized for percussion.

Mark Schirmacher’s music is best described as folk, although he also has a bit of a rock & roll heart. “Losing Things” is the most emotional song on the album, as it’s clearly about someone struggling. “Tomorrow” is also a little concerning, as the listener isn’t sure the reason why he’s set out in search of someone he’s known since his youth. Once again, it’s the mystery left in, and information left out, which makes Schirmacher such a compelling songwriter. His album Losing Things is a real find.

-Dan MacIntosh