Every Now and Then is the new album from John Renaud, playing songs originally showcased in the mid/late 2000’s by his LA-based band Bridgework. Even though Bridgework officially dissolved as a band several years ago, with the bulk of its members leaving the LA area and dispersing to various locales around the North American continent, the music lives on with Renaud, a founding member of the group and an accomplished solo artist in his own right. Every Now and Then is his attempt to record and archive material spanning over a decade of writing under the Bridgework moniker.
Stylistically, Every Now and Then sticks with a fairly standardized, college radio-ready alt-rock format that paid dividends for many a similar band back in the 2000’s. Renaud’s current album carries forward that torch, a kind of admixture of late 90’s/early 00’s post-alternative/post-grunge (think late-era Foo Fighters, not knuckle-draggers such as Staind or Nickelback), melodic SoCal punk-lite, and a few emotive asides thrown in to break it up a bit. As a whole what one uncovers with this record is a pretty well-hinged, honest rock outing that wouldn’t be out of place on college rotation with other such acts of the last decade. Lyrical schemes tend to be fairly straightforward with a air of dogged earnestness, such as on the affecting “No God or Heaven”, or the plaintive “First Try” or “Burn Me Out”.
Every Now and Then has a tangible insularity to it that is most likely reflective of the fact that it was recorded in its entirety by Renaud in his home studio (and mostly crowd-funded by a Kickstarter campaign, no less), a notable feat in that the album sounds great and is amply fleshed out despite the lack of multiple artistic inputs, a tribute to Renaud’s varied musical talents. There’s little doubt that Renaud is an effective musician and songwriter (not to mention sound engineer), demonstrated by the fact that Every Now and Then does much to funnel many of the post-alt artists Renaud obviously holds close to heart.
That being said, a major hamstring here may well be Every Now and Then’s oftentimes indistinguishably familiar sound, coming off like so many other similar bands playing similar music. Though Renaud states via his website that Every Now and Then is an attempt to cull together songs written over a ten year period in order to give them their due and to then move on as an artist, a listener may well find him/herself tuning the record to the background after just a few songs, given its centrist dynamics, well-worn contours, and at times over-cooked subject matter. There’s little by way of surprise on Every Now and Then, with perhaps the exception of the somewhat out-of-left-field (yet appreciated) “Orchestral Break” leading into the opening piano lines of “Picture Frame”, and each new track, however well done, seems to bleed into the next, with few real highs and lows, so to speak.
From the first track to the last, however, Renaud’s abilities as a multi-tasker are on full display, and there’s not really an unpolished moment on the record. Stand-out tracks include “The Game”, with its well-placed chorus hook, “Hey Kid”, which is a nod to the poppy SoCal punk idiom, the angsty “Another 4am Whatever it Takes”, and the moody “No God or Heaven”. The all-acoustic “Reaching Out” caps as a nice closer.
In all, though one knows what they’re going to get with Every Now and Then by the time the first few tracks have passed, Renaud has made a statement here. The now-defunct Bridgework’s material has been collected and released as a proper timepiece with Renaud’s well-heeled studio chops making the release ready for possible radio play. And now an artist can get back to making new music, and leave the ghosts of the past to rest. As Renaud sings in title track “Every Now and Then”, “Anything you do, put your heart into; If you can see it through, it comes back to you”. Indeed.
Every Now and Then – LP
Reviewer: Reed Burnam