Friday, October 28, 2016

St. Lenox - Ten Hymns From My American Gothic

Let's start with the bottom line: Don't miss Ten Hymns From My American Gothic.  This is a top 20 album of the year -- pop rock with superb songwriting, soulful vocals, interesting and uplifting storylines, incisive social perspective and more humanity that you'll find in the entire Billboard 'top whatever' list.  The album is the work of St. Lenox, the performance name chosen by Andrew Choi.  Choi was raised in the American Midwest by his Korean immigrant parents.  His talent and love of music took him to Julliard, where he trained as a violinist.  He owns an Ivy League degree (Princeton), a PHD (Ohio State) and a law degree (NYU), and now works as an attorney in Manhattan by day, and writes and records music at night.  His previous album was Ten Songs About Memory And Hope, which displayed his burgeoning talent as a songwriter (as an attorney myself, I'll note that Andrew displays a rather lawyerly way of naming his albums).

Ten Hymns focuses broadly on the American immigrant experience, both in general terms and Choi's specific path as the son of Asian immigrants.  Written to mark his father's 70th birthday, Choi's wide lens  encompasses relationships, the inspiration to study law, confronting bigotry, American culture, raising children and other topics.  Choi packs a lot of words into his songs, and his delivery has a free-form, stream of consciousness aspect.  But his feel for language and his soulful tenor make it all work to great effect.  The arrangements are piano and electronic based, and provide a rich backdrop for Choi's stories.  This album is a triumph of musical art, to be sure, but it also is a triumph of the American Dream.  And given this election cycle, it is sorely needed.

Ten Hymns From My American Gothic is out now via Anyway Records.

Bandcamp for Ten Hymns From My American Gothic
Anyway Records

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