Central California musician Derek Senn’s latest album, How Could A Man, creates a kind of musical black hole. As you approach it, the shining light (or in this case, the lyrics) tells you of its existence, and tempts you to come closer. As you circle about it though, you realize there’s no escape. Time becomes irrelevant and you simply live in the moment.
Senn is married with a couple of kids and a good day job. He’s not a struggling musician, because he chooses not to be. His passion for using music to tell his story didn’t need 20 years of couch surfing and ramen. Instead, his voice came from a life that, frankly, is probably closer to most of us than traditional family inspiration or love song metaphors.
Several songs focus on modern suburban life. The Nuclear Family has a toe-tapping rhythm to observe “last night was relatively civil, until we got into the wine” on its way to a nuclear family meltdown. Babysitter could be the Talking Heads follow up to Stay Up Late. Now with two under two, Senn has “a fear of flying, not because of terrorists [but] diarrhea, vomit and pee.” Be Careful What You Wish For is an apparently autobiographical verse about sending the kids to camp only to find you no longer can do the things you used to do.
Senn also pushes the satire button about other topics. Cold Calling Again admits to spending day job hours creating music, while The Song Mine is a brilliant little ditty about an alternative way of looking at the song writing craft. The Oil Oligopoly points out the hypocrisy of driving a big SUV to a protest about gas prices. The record finishes with Some Chase A Girl, which summarizes a main theme throughout the record about learning to love your current situation. It’s just Derek and his guitar. When he finishes, it’s your opportunity. Give How Could A Man to a friend, or you’re going to listen to it another half a dozen times over the weekend.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.