@shawn Yeah, that release was a really special one. They went all-out; Flight came out in November and blew everyone’s minds, then Hurricane and the track list in January, the album art contest, releasing Wish as the third promo single, and then releasing four versions of the album (standard, iTunes deluxe, Target deluxe, and Collector’s + tin) with different songs in each. I too bought all three special versions immediately, and used the picks until they disintegrated.
The Target edition is my favourite, since that version of Clarity is probably my most-listened-to song from the whole album. Yesterday’s Son, Hourglass, Flight, and Firing Squad were probably my other favourites in that order, along with Wish (though it’s almost a different song than the demo, much cheerier vibe which is good in its own right but not as moving as the demo for sure) and Après La Vie (a song I have a hunch J wrote after the finale of How I Met Your Mother - he posted about the show at the time and Cristin Milioti’s performance of La Vie En Rose in the last episode was very similar).
Angeline and Exhale are both solid, and Exhale feels like it was written in the Blyss days; he follows the nearly unrhymed lyrical structure of early tracks like Joshua, May, and Simon. I preferred the acoustic version of Angeline he debuted in 2011 though; the ukulele he added to the Paper Cuts/Wasteland version was a touch bright for my liking. I found Alien to be a bit bright too, preferring the bouncier Guitar Centre Sessions version.
A real sleeper song for me was Hurt This Way, which I think he wrote with a country artist and really introduced something brand new for the band and his writing; it was the first real storytelling song I can remember him writing, maybe besides Angeline. Far more specific details of things than in his earlier, broader writing style (keys buried in the grass / Springsteen references / old man tying one up tight etc, and down the road from Annehein, it’s my birthday, middle of our hometown) and I think these songs served as early inklings of a shift towards his ØZWALD lyrical style of singing about the details of things, not just these large thoughts about life that defined Lifehouse until 2010.
The iTunes version had Hindsight and You Are Not Alone, the latter of which he played in a lot of medleys. Hindsight sounded like a Smoke & Mirrors outtake to me, as it had a bit of the bitterness found in those co-written songs from that era (Had Enough, Wrecking Ball, HTGT, Nerve Damage). H2O isn’t a track I listen to very often, but I think fits content-wise with Gresham and a lot of the more recent work he’s done. Still a great stand-alone track in a similar vein as Storm, All That I’m Asking For, and Aftermath.
If there’s one thing I know for sure, my least favourite track is Hurricane, and One for the Pain is probably second. I just never quite bought either of them as overly genuine lyrically, though I still love the instrumentation and melody of OFTP.