We need to start 2018 off on the right foot. Why not chase the blues away with ukulele-fueled songs of love, solidarity, and kittens? Yes, kittens. And snowflakes. And a bit of magic. It may look and sound like a hokey project at first glance but Jeremy Messersmith’s amazing 2017 release, 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukulele: A Micro Folk Record for the Twenty First Century, delivers the goods. 10 songs performed in just under 16 minutes with an intense but laid back delivery that oozes authenticity. Some are sweetly charming (like “Everybody Gets a Kitten”) while others are just touchingly sweet (like “Everything is Magical” or “I’m a Snowflake Baby”). In anyone else’s hands these songs would quickly turn to mush but Messersmith manages to wring out every last drop of authentic feeling. It helps that the songwriting is so strong, careening from simple three chord wonders (“Everything is Magical”) to more saucy and complicated pre-WWII era jazz structures (“Love Sweet Love”). There isn’t a bum track on this all too brief album, which fittingly ends with the beautiful, delightful, and inspiring “We Can Make Our Dreams Come True.” Buy it. Play it. Again. I feel better already!
Jeremy Messersmith can be found at his website and Facebook. You can preview the whole album via a series of videos for each song, available at Jeremy’s YouTube page. Warning: repeated listenings to this record will make you want to play them yourself! Luckily, Jeremy offers a free songbook of the record so you can accompany yourself for the low, low price of just your email address.