Breaking the Script is a double length album from Reno, Nevada’s rock/jazz quartet, The Novelists. The group combines folk-like story telling lyrics with magnificent multi-part harmonies, layers of instrumentation and rich production. The resulting sound is uniquely theirs and very easy to enjoy from the beginning to the end of this twenty-four song long musical journey, which is like twenty-four short stories set to a soundtrack.
The Novelists were originally conceived by singer/songwriter Joel Ackerson, who liked the idea of delivering his songs in literary form. Ackerson’s first recruit was jazz bassist Zack Teran in 2012, followed by a collaboration with keyboardist/vocalist Eric Andersen, where the trio alternated arrangements with front man and backing roles. In 2014, session drummer Justin Kruger joined the group to complete The Novelists current lineup.
Throughout 2013, the group embarked on “The Novelists Book Club”, a subscription which delivered two original songs each month. In early 2014, the group released two albums comprised of “Book Club” material. Throughout 2015 and early 2016, the band composed and recorded the vast material which would be released as Breaking the Script in the summer of 2016.
|Breaking the Script by The Novelists|
|Released: June 3, 2016
Produced by: The Novelists
|Track Listing||Group Musicians|
|Morris & Estelle
They Will Follow
Prisoner of Your Mind
I’m in No Pain
No One Watching Us
Set Ourselves Free
You Will Know My Name
Above the Hiding
I Don’t Want to Be Like You
Take It Slow
I Remind You
Easier to Dream
Drums, Mandolin, Vocals
Breaking the Script was released as two 12-song discs. Highlights from the first disc include The pop-ish sound of “Finish Line”, where each verse runs with forward motion building drama as the song progresses. “They Will Follow” features measured beats with swishy drums and sweet harmonies delivering the lyric “…take the lead and they will follow” along with vignettes about people who are faced with difficult choices. The beautifully arranged piano tune “Prisoner of Your Mind” is followed by two tracks featuring guitarist/vocalist Megan Slankard – “Pattern”, about a person on a path of self destruction, and “In No Pain”, with some beautiful harmonizing and simple piano accompaniment decorated with some strings. The teenage ballad “No One Watching Us” features heavy and slightly dark guitar riffs, while “Set Ourselves Free” is a sweet, folksy love song, featuring Kruger on mandolin and “War Paint” is a dramatic ballad about sacrifice.
By far the most compelling song on the album is its opening song, “Morris and Estelle”, which tells the story of a couple who happily lived their lives together and on their own terms. It is a beautiful story with a bittersweet ending set to an upbeat tune with the theme of “This is our life and we’re living it well.”
The second disc of Breaking the Script starts with the exquisite track “Hang On”, featuring dual lead vocals by Ackerson and Andersen with more mandolin by Kruger and lyrics written for three individuals who were each facing their own health crisis. “Soul Sucker” has anxious, staccato beats and a vocal reminiscent of Paul Carrick, while “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is about following in the footsteps of someone but still wanting to be your own person. A similar theme is later explored in the song “Take Back”, followed by the track “Changing Tide”, which follows the ebb and flow of emotions as well as happiness vs bad times. “Take It Slow” has a great slow, bluesy groove, “Rubber Band” features a modern rock sound with some do wop thrown in, and “Decide” is a haunting song about directly asking for the truth. Breaking the Script concludes with “Easier to Dream”, a beautiful song with solid production and an especially potent guitar which really hits a sweet spot.
Overall, this double album is a satisfying listen from beginning to end, though it may have benefited from being broken into two separate projects. All the songs are very good, the performances and production are solid, but with just a touch more development there could be greatness here. Moving forward, The Novelists plan on continuing to evolve musically, expanding their audience, and to continue making new music.
The Novelists online