Band: Army Of Me
Title: Make Yourself Naked
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Review By: Scott L
- On My Way
- Lost At Sea
- Heart Of Love
- Love Song
- Don’t Be Long
I love the name Army Of Me. As a kid, that would have made a great comeback to the question so often posed on the playground during recess… “Oh, yeah?! You and what army?!” Because an eight-year-old flexing his muscles and declaring “These armies!” just doesn’t have the desired effect. Even to other eight-year-olds. But let me tell you, Army Of Me… the band… has a whole lot more going for them than just a snappy moniker.
Army Of Me is a band out of Washington, D.C. area that typically plays a catchy indie rock. I say ‘typically’ because this time around Army Of Me is more of a scaled down army of one. Although released under the Army Of Me name, this EP is a solo project of sorts for frontman Vince Scheuerman and adopts a more rootsy style of indie rock. Somewhere along the lines of Bill Mallonee, Griffin House, or David Gray. And whether it’s an accompanying guitar or piano, the songs are touching in their simple utilitarianism. The music, while beautifully crafted, is made so as not to cloud the transparency of the messages it accompanies.
As far as the EP’s title, I’ll let Vince explain. “I never intended for anyone to hear this music. They were simple recordings that I did on my laptop, in my bedroom, during the winter of ’09, in Washington, D.C.; meant to be demos and song ideas for the next Army Of Me record. But one day, I played these recordings for a good friend. His reaction was so overwhelming that it made me think to myself that maybe I was sitting on something special. It wasn’t special because I was a recording guru, this was actually my first venture into recording myself. And I only had one microphone, a guitar, and a keyboard to work with. But perhaps the recordings were special because they were raw and intimate, and spoke honestly of the journey I’d been on for the last couple of years. It’s been a journey to discover love, a journey to discover myself, and a journey to strip away defenses, sometimes against my will. The title tells you what you need to know about the sound, about the themes. And so here it is – Make Yourself Naked.”
Lyrically, Vince has crafted some beautiful and compelling songs. This EP seems a bit more focused than Army Of Me’s previous full-length release “Citizen”. This may be partially due to the fact that “Make Yourself Naked” contains only 5 songs, but I think that it’s more so due to the nature of the stark honesty on this release. This is all about the search for answers. At times outright… and at times barely discernable. But when the 5 pieces of the puzzle are all put together, the picture is of a man on a journey. Consider the song “Lost At Sea” which says, “if you’re on my horizon / then, babe, I must be blind / ‘cause when I need you most / you are so hard to find / the winds are raging / and the waves are laughing down on me / I never quite expected / to be out here lost at sea / gonna tie myself to this one-man sailboat / believe me when I tell you / that the waters are still rising / gonna bind myself to the Santa Maria / looking for an open door / at the end of the world / when I set sail for freedom / I was taking a chance / the sun my only compass / my heart the only map / now I’m barely treading water / and I feel I may be cursed / so why don’t you come and claim me / before the ocean claims me first”. Much like “Citizen”, the message here is metaphorical. I believe that the opening line of the EP sums it up the best when it says, “head to the heart is the name of the road”. And when it comes to any true spiritual journey, that is indeed the road that must be traveled first.
The standout track on this EP was “Don’t Be Long”, which closes out the release. It’s a haunting dirge summed up in the lines “I’ve got this thirst I cannot fill / I’ve got this hunger I can’t kill / I’ve been out searching / I still have not found / an answer I’m waiting on / don’t be long”.
Army Of Me isn’t what you would call a Christian band. Or even really Christians in a band. In some circles that may be open for debate, but not in my book. Vince comes from a religious upbringing and leans toward the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church. And while doctrinally I would no doubt be at odds with some of what he embraces from a theological standpoint… what I appreciate about Vince, and about Army Of Me by extension, is exactly what has shaped this EP. Honesty, introspection, and transparency. It’s just such a rarity to find someone who so plainly, and poetically, reveals their heart as they seek after legitimate answers. Answers which I believe are only found in a true relationship with Christ. I also believe that those who ask sincere questions will, in time, find sincere answers. Jesus said that those that seek shall find.
Overall: Army Of Me’s new release “Make Yourself Naked” is a bit more bare bones musically than their last offering, but it’s far more focused and far more revealing. It’s about the longest 18 inches a person could ever travel… the distance from the head to the heart. So if you’re into some rootsy indie rock, I’d encourage you to pick this EP up and give it a spin. You’ll be glad you did.