You’re Not Alone (EP), by Semisonic
It has been nearly 20 years since Semisonic last came out with new music, the late and not nearly popular enough All About Chemistry. In listening to this EP, Semisonic sounds like they picked up right where they left off, making exactly the sort of new music that one would want to hear from them in 2020. If you’re a fan of Semisonic in 2020, this is the sort of music you wanted and that you now have available to you. Apparently for a long time singer/songwriter Dan Wilson just was unable to think of music that was suited to Semisonic until he started writing some material for a possible collaboration with Liam Gallagher that he realized the material would work for Semisonic, and it does. The five songs included here are not exactly nostalgic, for the most part, but they do sound as if the power pop trio picked up right where they left off, sounding fresh and invigorated with the yearning that one would expect from the group. While, in listening to this album, I didn’t hear another “Closing Time,” there are at least a couple of songs that would be right at home on contemporary alternative or AAA radio that deserve a fair hearing and a lot of appreciation. Let’s hope that we don’t have to wait another nineteen years before we get more new music from Semisonic; it’s been too long, guys.
Here is a track-by-track review:
You’re Not Alone: This driving song, featuring some excellent guitar and drum work and some singing that soars into falsetto from Wilson, provides a worldly wise but realistically optimistic approach to dark times. Although the group and I have quite different political worldviews, the song’s recognition that the world is wrong and there isn’t much that individual people can do about it can apply regardless of where you stand on particular political matters, as everyone can agree that the world is screwed up right now.
All It Would Take: This driving, anthemic song is one of the standouts on this EP, as Wilson ponders about his optimism and his belief that the world inside and around him could change with very modest aims. This is the sort of empowerment anthem of optimism and hope that 2020 was looking for and needs.
Basement Tapes: The most obvious nostalgic song here, this particular number finds Wilson musing upon his youth and the fact that he hasn’t entirely moved on from the past, reflecting on his Minnesota roots and the sort of mixtapes that fascinated him from the days of “Singing In My Sleep,” if not before. Moving on is overrated anyway.
Don’t Make Up Your Mind: Another standout track from this EP, this song could also very easily be a hit single with its telling discussion of a relationship going wrong where the author yearns for a face-to-face discussion that might prevent things from going awry in the ambiguity of e-mails and other remote conversations. This is a song that is surprisingly timely in light of communication struggles and the social isolation most of us are experiencing right now.
Lightning: This is a somewhat nostalgic track that reflects the romantic yearning with a good degree of humor that we have come to expect in Semisonic releases, and it is something that would have worked very well in All About Chemistry or a soundtrack at about that time. It’s an enjoyable track nowadays too, of course.
Overall this is a solid EP. It’s a shame we didn’t get enough songs for a full album but this definitely whets the appetite for more Semisonic material, and let’s hope that Dan Wilson doesn’t have more writer’s block about songs that would fit for the group. It’s a pity that this wasn’t released on a major label and that there won’t be a push for any of these songs to chart or get played on the radio, but if you are a fan of Semisonic’s material and want to hear a natural progression of their sound to the present day, this is well worth the wait.