Bahamas is the stage name of Afie Jurvanen, a native Ontarian who has worked with a plethora of successful bands, from The Lumineers to Feist. Jurvanen has been producing music under this moniker since the release of debut album Pink Strat in 2009, acting as both lead vocalist and guitarist. Since then, Bahamas has released two more albums, the most recent being the popular Bahamas is Afie in 2014.
After a four-year break, Earthtones is a welcome re-entry into the new music scene. The record maintains the relaxed, atmospheric nature of previous songs, to a degree. However, it also contains more up-tempo pieces; in an interview with Billboard, Jurvanen expressed that this was a purposeful move catered toward “outdoor festivals and… big crowds.” Nonetheless, the songwriter crafts lyrics that, without fail, will make listeners feel introspective and vaguely melancholic.
Jurvanen’s words exude an undeniable sense of self-doubt and despondency. He discusses the difficulties of navigating relationships, creating appealing musical content, coping with mental illness, and living up to expectations (among other topics). In one of the most poignant songs on the album, “Everything to Everyone,” the bouncy guitar and background vocals are offset by Jurvanen’s earnest chorus: “I don’t know why I always try to please everyone around me / I can’t be everything to everyone.”
The universality of Bahamas’s song themes is part of what makes the whole album such a great listen. But powerful lyricism aside, the instrumental work on Earthtones is also impressive, plainly demonstrating Jurvanen’s masterful arrangement abilities, as well his cohesion with the other musicians he features (drummer Jason Tait and backing vocalist Felicity Williams). Rounded off with aesthetically pleasing album artwork—in, you guessed it, earth tones—this latest release from Bahamas is a promising start to a new year of music.
Recommended If You Like: Dr. Dog, Andy Shauf, Shakey Graves
Recommended Tracks: 1 (Alone), 3 (No Wrong), 7 (Bad Boys Need Love Too), 8 (Everything to Everyone)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Jaya Chakka on 01/23/2018