Many may associate Jeremy Lister as the lead vocalist from the a cappella group Street Corner Symphony, the runners-up on the second season of NBC’s show ‘The Sing Off’ hosted by Nick Lachey and judged by celebrity musicians Shwan Stockman, Nicole Scherzinger, and Ben Folds. The group performed memorable a cappella arrangements from a wide variety of songs ranging from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down On The Corner,” to Radiohead’s, “Creep.” However, Lister’s resume does not only include his a cappella band; he has been performing since he was a child. In 2003, he moved to Nashville with his first EP ‘Shooting Star.’ From there he released his second and third EPs ‘So Far,’ and ‘Just One Day.’ Lister’s music has caught the attention of many as he sells out headlining shows in Nashville and through the south. Notably, he has also opened for artists such as Brett Dennen and Colbie Caillet. His newest LP, ‘The Bed You Made,” was released on iTunes late last month, and hit number 4 on the Singer/Songwriter charts.
Both on “The Sing Off” and through his twitter and facebook pages, Lister has talked about the trials that have come with being a musician and the great amount of time it took to release ‘The Bed You Made.’ The album itself interweaves a bevy of emotion. Lister sings in a steady tenor, but his songs that take him into a higher falsetto register are truly soul-searing.
The first track, “Turn the Pages” jump starts the album. Straying away from a sweet singer/songwriter ballad, the type of song fans of Lister’s may know him for; “Turn the Pages” offers more of a harder edge. The song is intense and even a bit angry: “It isn’t easy, to get this far, just to find out you still don’t know who you are. I’m trying to let you know, I’m making it on my own, but you never let me go, it’s not your story. Let me turn the pages.” The passion of the lyrics and musical arrangement of this song pulls a listener into Lister’s “book,” hoping to learn more as he turns the pages from one track to the next.
Although the next two tracks, “Do What You Have To,” and “Gravity,” bring the tempo of the record down, they certainly are not lacking in emotion or storytelling. “Do What You Have To” tells the story that so many are familiar with: letting go of a love, but keeping the hope that one day that person will return. His verses at the midpoint of the song are layered in rounds, “I hope that you can find out, what you’re looking for, I hope that it will find you, waiting at my door,” and from those lyrics he moves into singing in a higher and heartrending tone: “Do what you have to, do what you need to, do what you have to, because I’ll be waiting,” before heading back into the chorus of the song. His delivery and technique pulls a listener into his story, while most probably, inciting personal memories as well. On the other hand, “Gravity,” has a sweet drum and piano prelude before venturing into that singer/songwriter ballad that Lister is well known for. He croons, “Well can you keep me rooted down here, my head is in the stratosphere, and you’re calling out to me. Everything is spinning around, trying to keep my feet on the ground, I’m losing gravity.” This song moves away from the darkness the first two tracks of the album offers and into a more euphoric mood that tends to come at the onset of something new that has been happily anticipated.
As the album progresses more of Lister’s stories spill into his songs. Track eight, “You and I” showcases Lister’s strengths as a vocalist. He moves out of his steady tenor into a higher vocal range throughout the verses and into the chorus of this melodious song: “I can see you’ve been feeling sadness underneath your smile, but now you can take off your disguise. Let it all out on my shoulder, let it vaporize. I will be your moonlight lullaby. Maybe we could run and hide. Tomorrow is a new sunrise, but for now, it’s just you and I.”
The slow ballad of track eight transitions into “Save Me,” a song that is sure to be a crowd pleaser and body mover at a live show. The arrangement is heavy on electric guitar, drums, and keys. This song provides the mind’s eye with images of stage lights and a high energy band performing for an even higher energy crowd in a dim concert hall. Truly a perfect song for such a vision.
The title track is the album’s second to last song. Simple acoustic guitar is weaved into “The Bed You Made.” Again, though, it is Lister’s higher registered vocals that really act as the dominant instrument. The opening lyrics are haunting: “I am staying here on the ground wondering why I hurt. Every piece of her is coming down with shoveled dirt.” The entire song is full of emotion – specifically remorse and acceptance – two feelings, which after some consideration do not make strange bedfellows.
There is no doubt that emotion is the central theme behind ‘The Bed You Made.’ Anger, regret, and sorrow are represented, but so too are hope, love, and acceptance. The album is a passionate rollercoaster of feelings which are brought to light with thoughtful arrangement and instrumentation. Lister’s vocals, however, take center stage on every song on the album. As Lister wrote on his twitter feed upon the album’s release, “After many years, tears, and bottles of beers ‘The Bed You Made’ is finally here.” As listeners, we couldn’t be happier.
Written by Linda Turk