THE PRESS RELEASE: “I wrote these songs about individual people,” Hamilton Leithauser explains. “I wrote stories and I wrote music; and then I matched them up. Not one story was originally intended for the music it ended up marrying. These are people I know, and strangers I’ve come across in the last few years. All of the stories are based on some kind of truth, but I’m not afraid to get loose with the facts. Most are both fact and fiction, and some tilt pretty far in either direction. I guess people might call this “creative nonfiction” or just “embellished stories. I wrote and recorded these songs in a studio I built for myself in New York. It’s a tight New York kind of space, and I’m jammed in with all sorts of instruments and equipment.”
MY TWO CENTS: “I would know you anywhere,” claims Hamilton Leithauser a few songs into The Loves of Your Life. I’m not sure if his fans can say the same so confidently these days. For a guy who used to front indie-rock mavericks The Walkmen — and has more recently partnered with Vampire Weekend’s old keyboardist — the singer-songwriter makes it clear he intends to follow his own unique path forward on his latest idiosyncratic solo release. Written and recorded in his own tiny studio, the disc is as rough-hewn and ramshackle as you might expect, recalling the messy, loose vibe of Bob Dylan and The Band’s Basement Tapes. Leithauser’s wide-eyed nasal yawp and literate, literary lyrics certainly don’t hurt in that regard either, though his contemporary indie-rock touches and attitudes are his and his alone, helping to situate these songs at the exact midpoint between welcome nostalgia and impressive timelessness. It may not be love at first sight, but Leithauser’s latest will most likely win you over in time.