Album Review :
Chris Bernstorf - It's All Joy

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Label: Independent
Release Date: May 17, 2019

Tracklisting:

  1. Swing
  2. The Facts
  3. County Government
  4. Geography
  5. Doing This
  6. Paris
  7. Sci-Fi
  8. Dirt
  9. One

Chris Bernstorf is the poetic equivalent to a bowl of jelly beans. Well, unless you study those jelly bean guides, but that’s beside the point. Opening track “Swing” lives up to its name, offering a dizzying array of topics from water parks, to The Mentalist, to online classes, all pointing to the theme of overcoming personal vices. That probably sounds random – which it is – but that’s precisely what works for It’s All Joy: the negative “without rhyme or reason” is turned into a positive. Bernstorf talks about meaningful things, but he’s usually apprehensive to give away the entirety of the meaning. Sure, “The Facts” will make you want to read a Guinness World Records book, and he seems quite enamored with love and God, but like I said, he jumps from topic to topic. Perhaps one exception to this is the candidly awkward “Dirt,” where Bernstorf discusses the less glamorous aspects of childbirth and humanity (yes, even Jesus’). While the closing track “One” runs a little long, It’s All Joy succeeds because of its authenticity. This Taylor, Michigan resident is writing the poems that he wants to write, fighting clichés with love and a million Jelly Bellies, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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