Review by Shannon Shumaker
Versus The World’s new release, Homesick/Roadsick is packed to the brim with heartfelt and personal lyricism delivered with emotional vocals and incredibly energetic guitar work. Before listening to this album, it’s worth noting the underlying themes of homesickness with a sense of longing to get back on the road. The title speaks for itself, but even better are the raw and real lyrics and stories in these songs, making for a journey of a listen.
“The Santa Margarita” opens up Homesick/Roadsick on a strong note not only because of the explosion of sound and vocals right off the bat, but also due to the strong emotional and lyrical content of the song, written for vocalist/guitarist Donald Spence’s late friend Tony Sly (No Use For A Name). It’s not often that an album kicks off with a song with such heavy lyrical content, and while the move is risky, it pays off for Versus The World, giving listeners just a glimpse of what to expect from the rest of this album - honest, real songs about life, loss and love.
The guitar work on Homesick/Roadsick is worth noting because of the catchy lead hooks peppered throughout the entire album (see “The Black Ocean” and “Seven. Thirty-One) and the way that it supplements the restlessness in the songs. Big, melodic and catchy choruses are also a strong point in the album, as many of them are memorable anthems, regardless if they’re slow or fast. “The Black Ocean,” for instance, is one of the slower songs on Homesick/Roadsick, a little darker and more laid back, but it’s just as strong as the huge chorus on “A Brooklyn Rooftop,” which feels like an upbeat summer anthem. “A Sight for Sore Eyes” is also strong because of its big chorus and strong lyricism, as it carries a very positive self-love message for the underdogs.
The great thing about Homesick/Roadsick is the way the album serves as a snapshot into the lives of the members of Versus The World. “A Storm Like Me,” for instance is about wanting to get out, even going to the extent of pushing the ones who love you most away, as Spence belts, “Trust me, you don’t want a storm like me to stay.” Hitting the theme of the album home is definitely the title track, though. “Homesick. Roadsick” encompasses all of the themes of the album: the longing to come home from months out on the road versus wanting to get away not long after. All of the songs on Homesick/Roadsick have a sense of restlessness and adventure to them, but the title track just condenses them all into one song, making for almost a perfect summary of sorts.
To be honest, the only complaint I have about Homesick/Roadsick is in some of the vocal work, which seems to stay within the same range throughout much of the album. However, Donald Spence’s vocals are delivered in such a raw and emotional manner that this is an easy flaw to look past. “Self Preservation Is Killing Us All” is a great example of this, as the song starts out relatively quiet, leaving you to take the vocals and lyrics at face value, and as I said, the lyricism is easily one of the strongest aspects of Homesick/Roadsick.
Homesick/Roadsick is easily worth more than one listen, simply because you’re bound to find something new to love each time around. There isn’t a dull moment on this album lyrically, because it is overflowing with heartfelt words and personal stories - everyone is bound to connect with at least one.
Listen to "The Santa Margarita" or "Homesick. Roadsick"