Sef Idle – “Start Again”


Start AgainLately there have been quite a few acoustic tracks put out by punk bands and the results have been mostly impressive as perhaps surprisingly, the genre fits well in an acoustic setting.  Maybe it’s the relative simplicity of the music or the heartfelt emotion in the lyrics or most likely a combination of those two elements that make it work in an acoustic setting. Sef Idle (False Idle, uniSEF) has released a great collection of songs on his debut solo ep, Start Again.

For those not familiar with Sef Idle or his Boise, Idaho punk band False Idle, there is a bit of other back history as well.  Sef Idle’s punk career goes back 20 years or so and includes some lesser known bands like Two Spare Months and Strong Point and more recently, the more widely-known uniSEF.  To provide some perspective, uniSEF and the current False Idle combine a variety of influences and sounds from bands like The Bouncing Souls, The Deal, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rancid, Green Day, Face to Face, so you might be wondering how an acoustic project came to be.  Back in 2008, Sef wrote the song “Get Back Up” to be released as part of a project called Just Plain Sef, but that didn’t see the light of day until Thumper Punk Records added it as a bonus track to the uniSEF completed discography in 2012.  Not until False Idle took a recent break did Sef actually find some time to put together a solo effort.  As for the acoustic part, False Idle released the  California or Bust ep as an acoustic album and that really demonstrated the potential of how well the punk rock songs could translate to the acoustic setting and is another album worth checking out.

Start Again fittingly opens up with “5 AM”, a song many, including this guy, can certainly relate to and being acoustic is even more fitting in this case.  The song walks the listener through what could be a typical morning routine.  “It’s early on Monday the sun’s not up yet, the lights are all off in the house, the coffee pot’s brewing a fresh cup of joe, cause there’s no way that I’d go without….it’s another day that I won’t get in the way”. I’m sure many can relate to this setting and that’s the strength of the songs on the album.  Keeping it acoustic forces the songs to be carried by the quality of the lyrics and vocals.  This song has that quiet, instantly relatable feel to it, almost like the listener is right there in the song.  The understated lyric video also captures the feel of the song very well.

The ep has that very raw feel to it, almost as if Sef was performing in the same room as the listener and trying out the songs to see if they would work.  Sure there are some subtle backing vocals here and there and some other instruments that can be heard at times but they really do tend to fade in the background of the listening experience.  The arrangements  are another strong suit for the songs on the ep.  “Start Again” begins with a melancholy tone where the voice says “been gone for quite some time, I’m not sure why I gave up on myself but I’ll be fine” and with tone and inflection in the vocals, one is sort of wondering if that is attempt to convince oneself if that really is the case.  After that the song changes tone a bit and when those same lyrics quietly close out the song, you get the feeling the voice now believes that sentiment.

“In the Sand” and “Big and Strong” are in essence two love songs even though Sef says at one point on “in the Sand” that he didn’t want to write “a simple sappy love song”.  “In the Sand” focuses on finding his soulmate and writing the love song he’s “always promised”.  “Big and Strong” is both a tribute to the father figures in his life and the struggles and doubts many of us face as we try to live up to the fine examples of what a man should be”.  Both songs are very strong from an emotion standpoint and while not necessarily what would be the typical subject of a punk rock song, both carry the same conviction and heartfelt emotion of the best punk songs.

The album closes with “Get Back Up” and does bring in some electric guitar into the “acoustic” album but it is appropriately subdued in the mix and adds to the uplifting feel of the song.  Certainly, a fitting close to a great collection of songs.

Rating: 9/10

Written by John Jackson

1. 5 AM 03:36
2. Back Then 03:49
3. Start Again 03:16
4. In The Sand 03:38
5. Big And Strong 04:00
6. Get Back Up 03:19

Band Members:
Sef Idle – Vocals, guitars

Record Label: Thumper Punk Records, Aug. 2014

Weblinks: Website / Facebook

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
Metal Helm

Video below  ‘5 AM’


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