If you were to describe Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz debut album Of All These Things, it would be similar to describing a good cup of coffee – it’s bittersweet, oddly refreshing, and has a calm moodiness to it. The duo takes off with the dreamy opener “Below The Night” where the rustling guitar strings and gentle drums take you into a nocturnal meditation. From this solo contemplation, the two transitions you into an intimate moment with a loved on in “Hold On To Me” where they keep the serene melancholia going.
While the first two tracks induces an acoustic-like feel, Eric and Mark abandon the softness for a more exhilarating tune in “New Life” where they capture the refreshing sensation and hope of rebirth. “More to come, new life” chants Eric. The banjo lingers with the midtempo guitar riffs, helping the tune to pick up its pace even more. “New Life” is an optimistic march forward for a better life.
Perhaps the grooviest parts of the album are “Eyes Of Your Loves” and “Look Into The Sun” where the two toy with arrhythmic riffs. There is a slight melodic uniformity in the songs, which is not surprising since they’re restricting their instruments to a semi-acoustic level. But in these two tracks, they manage to throw in some twists that add more rhythmic variety.
Many moments in Of All These Things are self-discovery ones where the duo finds a new side of them on their own or through someone else. “Please go ahead and lead me with your love for me” sings Eric in “I Used To Be Another.” It’s an ode to someone else but also to oneself as the ballad reflects back on one’s ghost of the past. There is a back-and-forth reflection of change and time throughout the record. The follow up track, “Time’s Gone” is built on shimmering guitar strings and stretchy oohs that channel the fluidity of time.
If there’s something different about the love songs in Of All These Things is that they do not only long or pay tribute to someone, but also contemplate on how love serves as a way to explore and even judge oneself. In “High To Low” the duo reflects on the peaks and valleys of a relationship through their own eyes as well as the other person’s – who, often times, may be incapable of seeing the flaws. “Try to see all of me / Not what you see all your loving eyes can see.”
There is an undeniable feeling of nostalgia throughout the album that reaches its apex in “Together Must Be Found” – a buoyantly gloomy piece that muses on the emotional vastness that distance can cause. Eric and Mark wrap up the record with “Found My Way Home” where they address the root cause of it all – the desire to belong. The track is not as lyrically dense as the others, but by letting the melody dominate the soundscape the duo let the listeners to tap into their own wish to find ‘home’ through self-discovery and love.
Of All These Things was released back in June 6th of this year and marks the first collaborative debut album between singer/songwriter Eric Anders and guitarist/composer Mark O’Bitz. The duo met back in 2002 when Eric was attending one of Mark’s shows in Pasadena. The duo is currently working on their next album under the moniker Ghosts To Ancestors, so be on the lookout for that.