This past year saw so many great albums, but none stood out more than Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s side project, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties’ record “We Don’t Have Each Other.”
For the album, Campbell created a fictitious character named Aaron West and wrote the 10-song record, telling the story of the worst year of West’s life.
The album was released with Hopeless Records on July 8, 2014, amid a great summer of music which featured Four Year Strong’s “Go Down in History” EP, Every Time I Die’s “From Parts Unknown” and several other great releases.
However, “We Don’t Have Each Other” piqued my interest because Campbell’s band The Wonder Years has been one of my favorite bands, and I figured Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties would be something to check out.
I didn’t know what to think before I listened to the album, but any expectation I could have had was blown away when I first heard it.
“We Don’t Have Each Other” doesn’t sound anything like The Wonder Years, but it is a great change for Campbell.
Campbell arguably has the best lyrics in the pop punk genre, which he carries over to the acoustic rock/alternative-country band.
Though several things stand out on “We Don’t Have Each Other,” the lyrics are exquisite.
The story is sad, but the album’s instrumentals almost make the listener forget West’s depressing story.
Campbell takes on West’s identity, telling his story perfectly.
The album’s first song, “Our Apartment,” tells the tale of West meeting his wife’s sister and how West’s wife, Diane leaves him.
The song goes on to talk about how West wishes things could change.
In the next song, “Grapefruit,” West finally realizes Diane is out of his life.
In the rest of the album, Campbell writes about West’s divorce, his dad’s death, his attempts to get Diane back and ending up on one of the Carolina’s coastlines.
Campbell paints a picture, allowing the listener to visualize the events.
On the album’s third track, “Joe Keeps Us Safe,” we learn that West’s father has died and on the eighth track, West talks about how he used to watch the Buffalo Bills on TV with his dad in the early ‘90s.
The song says, “We watched Jim Kelly lead the way, and if my dad was here, what would he say… Would he even recognize me?”
The listener can almost feel West’s hurt, even though not a real story.
Listening to this record makes it seem as though you’re listening to an audiobook.
Campbell has happy, upbeat, lyrics with The Wonder Years, but “We Don’t Have Each Other” shows that Campbell has diverse lyrics.
My favorite track on the album, “Running Scared,” paints a picture of how West is looking ahead and trying to find happiness, but can’t because he keeps freezing and picturing Diane.
The track successfully makes several references to the Mountain Goats’ song “Going to Georgia,” though this version of the song is better than the original.
Campbell said the Mountain Goats’ “All Hail West Texas” and the Weakerthans’ “Renuion Tour,” though it inspired “We Don’t Have Each Other.”
Overall, this is a great album for anyone who likes a well-written story, which is a tough feat for the average songwriter.
The album is available on the Google Play Store for $9.49, on iTunes for $9.99 and on Spotify.