Justin Hopkins :: This Could Happen Anywhere

There is something about Justin Hopkins’ music that emanates joy, honesty, warmth and wit. After seeing him live, and corresponding back and forth for the 10 questions project he participated, I have to assume that reverie is from the person he is, as Justin comes across as a compassionate and clever kind of artist, someone who can be straight from the heart honest, world weary wise, and at times very funny. There is hope even in the bluesier and bittersweet tracks on his new acoustic album, This Could Happen Anywhere, that is unmistakable and unshakeable.

This album captures what it feels like to see Justin perform live, and does his voice justice in a way that so many artists’ albums fall short of, often over-producing to the point of losing the heart and soul of the musician, clouding and choking out the vocal sound. Sometimes the best music is that which is stripped down and raw, bringing out genuine emotion and vulnerability that is both palpable and moving. This album is an example of what keeps me a music fan who is constantly on the hunt for new discoveries, and is a great case in point of why I get as enthusiastic as I do about music, and musicians. Justin is one of those artists that keep my hope in music alive.

My initial favorite is Not Ready for the Heavy, which speaks to a state of mind and emotion I have been overwhelmed with lately. The storytelling meandering that goes on throughout the song, with the certain strum on the guitar strings, a discordant push and pull of sound that illustrates the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go story the song tells. Is this too much? Am I not strong enough for this? All of it hits in a deep and ready or not heavy part of my own heart, which has me returning to this song for the solace and the soothing it gifts.

We’re Not Getting Any Younger hits on a very personal level for me, as well, resonating with the way it feels to be a struggling artist myself, trying to make ends meet whilst keeping a family going. Despite the jaded reality that age brings that is definitely amidst the landscape of these lyrics, there is also this message of hope that weaves its way throughout the song, helping me breathe in a way that only music can.  In so many ways, this album is helping me through a rough time that I am traversing right now, this song one of those that belong in my “music is saving my life” playlist.

Building is another powerfully vulnerable numbers that creates a lyrically told tale of pain and persistence, and again, hope. I keep using that word again and again in this review, and yes, I could consult with the handy-dandy thesaurus to mix up my descriptions, but I do not want to, because honestly this album is a gift of musical hope. I would argue that the acoustic choice of this album, the impact of a musician’s voice and his guitar only, strengthens this feeling of intimacy and hope. This album touches in a way that so many over-produced albums just cannot accomplish.

Finding a place near immediately in my favorite love songs playlist is Wrap My Arms Around You, a lyrically lovely number celebrating both the burst and lightness of new love, and the strength and sustainability of something more long-term. I love the line “I want to be a big umbrella with my arms around you, you will never rain no more,” for its simplicity and vulnerable (and yes this word again) hope in love in that trying for forever kind of way.

Fighting the Tide is a playful number with a sound reminiscent of Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, and recent tour-mate, Tony Lucca. Someday is a slightly heavier number, an aspirational someday maybe kind of song that reminds me of early John Mayer, comparable to songs like Bigger than My Body and Comfortable. Even with these comparisons though, there is something so purely Justin in the entire album that remind me of how moved I was by his live performance last month at the Roxy, opening for Tony Lucca; though I do miss his piano numbers, though I realize that would not have fit in the spirit of this album (next time, maybe?)

As I have mentioned now multiple times before, Justin Hopkins’ music gives me hope, and this album itself feels like a much needed gift to me which I am quite grateful for right now. Thanks for the music, and for the hope.

No tracks available via youtube to share, but the following is a live version of a song from the album which gives a spot on example of what this album sounds like:

Try (live) :: Justin Hopkins

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