Review: Bogues – ‘Life Slowly’ EP

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AJ aka Bogues is an incredible songwriter; a top talent. His new EP, Life, Slowly, is a tonal painting where every timbre in his voice and every mellow lead that skates into earshot is like a brush stroke or a color you’ve never noticed until now, even though it’s the thousandth time you’ve seen the painting. Bogues’s songs feel layered, like each instrument could be played on its own and still hold some of the sentiment of the whole thing together.

Life, Slowly is a huge step up from his first EP, Mulligan. Using an electric guitar in a solo project is something that sets Bogues apart from the influx of solo artists who play acoustic like it’s going out of style (which it won’t, I can vouch for that). Both albums confront similar themes of abandonment and acceptance of consequences, but Life, Slowly has a bit more maturity and grace. Self-blame and for ‘not being good enough’ are foundations of this record, which Bogues wastes no time in exemplifying in the first song, “Orchard to Bartnick” where he asks, “Am I bad person? If I am, I hope you forget about me.

“Orchard to Bartnick” opens the record with sustained chords that provide a net for the blows that the lyrics bestow on your heart. The shouting harmonies are well balanced, and Bogues introduces us to his shortcomings. This is the first step, the beginning of his “coming undone.”

On “Finger Lakes and The End of Things,” where Bogues wastes no time in exploring his guilt. He’s really examining his actions and coming to terms with taking responsibility for the consequences. The electric guitar chords feel almost jarring in the beginning of the song, but then (employing that beautiful layering), you hear the familiar, classic sound of acoustic guitar strings rattling underneath the charged electric notes.

The third track, “Transcendentalism,” is my personal favorite. I have a soft spot for Ralph Waldo Emerson and transcendental literature. The mellow bass notes roll along the score as Bogues deftly hammers onto the low strings, keeping up the pace when things start to feel repetitious, as singular guitar work can often feel. This song feels like the climax of the album (especially if you’ve seen the video), as he laments that “God’s tired and I’m spent,” facing the reality that sometimes things in the past are unavoidable and it can’t be helped; all we can do is accept the consequences and move on, a developmental concept that the entire album encompasses.

After the climactic “Transcendentalism”, the album begins to incorporate a more positive worldview in retrospect with “Unpacking Boxes” and  the appropriately titled “All Moved In”.

Bogues utilizes gentle picking, blended with the weight of electric downstrums, to lay the beautiful sonic foundation over which his lilting voice can share a cathartic experience of depression, loneliness and fighting against futility that many of those who can commiserate with the other 2 find imposing.


Luciano Ferrara // @LucianoRFerrara

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