Review: Joey Kneiser – The Wildness

AJKWildnesscoverThe thing about first loves is they never leave us. Memories linger, words uttered years or decades prior still ring true. For those whose first love was music — rock and roll — they would never lack for companionship. Certainly there would be brief dalliances, awkward flings and even torrid affairs that would ultimately fade over time, but once a particular voice — the one — was found, the hope was they would speak to you forever.

For many, Joey Kneiser and Glossary were that special love. After releasing 2011’s Long Live All of Us, the Tennessee band that continually one-upped itself with each new release went quiet in 2013 due to medical concerns. Releasing a five-song EP, Moonlight For The Graveyard Heart, in 2012, Kneiser himself then went musically mute.

Marrying and relocating from Murfreesboro to Nashville, the last three years have equated to a separation rather than a breakup. While Moonlight For The Graveyard Heart and the 2009 EP The All-Night Bedroom Revival were clearly spartan solo efforts, Kneiser has returned with The Wildness, his first full length solo release. Playing all instruments and featuring harmony vocals by Glossary’s Kelly Smith — an unrivaled pairing — Kneiser revisits his own roots, reflecting on life and his own first musical loves.

The only truth we’ve ever known
Lives on the records that we stole
It finds it way to you
On the nights you feel alone

Escapist opener “Run Like Hell,” the rock and roll scars of the title track, the defiant “For the Good Life” and boisterous “The Heart Ever Breaking” seemingly pick up where Long Live All of Us left off. Separating The Wildness from Glossary albums are acoustic numbers “Heaven Only Wants Us When We’re Dead” with its inherent truth of “You either piss off your dad or become him over time / Either way a part of you has to die”; the ambling “The Good Ones”; “Look After Me,” a rare love song; and plaintive closer “Analog Rain.”

The greatest virtue of The Wildness is also the element most overlooked in Glossary’s sound: the influence of soul music on Kneiser. Most apparent on the fatherly sermon of “To My Younger Self,” those roots run through the reflective “Every Port in the Storm” and closer “Analog Rain,” both anchored by Smith’s harmonies.

Forever chasing that first love, Kneiser sings both to and for us all. Writing from his sleeve-worn heart, The Wildness holds no surprises, just honest truths we’ve come to expect. Doing what he does best, Kneiser has again outdone himself.

Watch the video for the album’s title track and stream The Wildness below. Purchase the album via This Is American Music.

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