Joel van Vliet: Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer
The concept album is something that can either become a thematic accomplishment or a disaster in trying to keep up with a motif. In the case of Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer by singer/songwriter Joel van Vliet, the gamble pays off beautifully. Over the course of sixteen elegantly crafted songs, he guides the listener through the four seasons. At the same time, a relationship collapses and another one blossoms with the change in the weather.
The stories outlined in each song can be processed independently or viewed as part of the overall character arch, which makes the album such a success at what it does. With a voice akin to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, van Vliet is soothing to listen to as his music pulls you in. Nothing too aggressive marks one season from the next; instead the shift is gradual, like you don’t even notice the year slipping past you until it’s already gone. This record is a refreshing accomplishment from a musician who is clearly confident in doing things on his own terms.