Start Your Weekend With An 'Obscenely Optimistic' Ukulele Jam

Apr 7, 2017

The news of the day is freighted with life-and-death importance, whether we're looking at military strikes in Syria, the contentious confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice, or the strife reportedly roiling the White House inner circle. Even the music world feels portentous: Kendrick Lamar is one week away from releasing an album whose meanings will be parsed for months to come, one-off protest songs are rolling out at a steady clip, and One Direction's Harry Styles is back with a nearly six-minute artistic makeover that casts him as a Bowie-esque wanderer. Everything feels as if it's got the weight of the world on its shoulders. Happy Friday!

Fortunately, as if sensing a vacuum, the wonderful Twin Cities-based singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith is also one week away from releasing an album whose meanings aren't likely to be parsed for months to come. Though more than capable of tackling weighty topics — in 2010, he released an amazing concept album about death titled The Reluctant Graveyard — Messersmith here collects a set of... well, when it comes to the concept this time around, let's let the title do the heavy lifting. It's called 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond. (The "And Beyond" part may be his most optimistic statement of all.)

What Messersmith calls "Micro Folk" is, in fact, a series of tiny, very simply recorded ukulele jams, the longest of which you can hear now. "Everything Is Magical" clocks in at a downright expansive 2 minutes and 14 seconds:

For the 10 remaining songs — sample titles include "We Can Make Our Dreams Come True," "There Is Nowhere We Won't Go" and the album-opening tone-setter "Everybody Gets A Kitten" — you'll have to wait until you're forced to choose between listening to them and delving into the new Kendrick Lamar record. But rest assured: Jeremy Messersmith is a friendly sort, and he's willing to wait.

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