Review Summary: Magnet is a great songwriter, a great musician, and his catchiness is off the charts. This makes the album “The Simple Life” very enjoyable and a recommended listen.
Magnet is the stage name of the solo artist Even Johansen, Even is very popular in Norway because of his acoustic and romantic style. The Norwegian fans describe his strengths as: his very retrospective songwriting, the great atmosphere the music creates, and the overall catchiness of the songs. But do these strengths really shine on his album “The Simple Life”, or do the Norwegians just have terrible music taste? I decided to take this album for a listen and decide.
Magnet’s songwriting on this album is absolutely magnificent. He describes whatever situation he is in with lots of detail, yet doesn’t try to be overly complicated with his lyrics. A perfect example of this is on the track, “You Got Me”, where he calmly sings to a acoustic guitar, “its not okay to f--- with my body/ if you are going to f--- with my head too”. Sure, it’s very simple but its still great lyrics that aren’t overdone. Even when he trys to get complicated like in the song “Slice Of Heaven”, it is still okay because the music is synched perfectly with his lyrics and it still doesn’t seem like he is forcing these lyrics into the song. The most important thing about the lyrics is that they describe the emotional state that the songwriter is in very well. If Magnet is in a bad mood, the lyrics from "Lonely No More" will describe why he is in that state very well. If he is in a reflextive mood, he will use Bob Marley lyrics from "Shes Gone" and add a unique touch to them. Almost every song describes a different emotional state and it adds a sense of variety to the album, even though there aren't many uplifting or upbeat songs on the album. Magnets lyrics are beautiful, not forced, and they fit the music nicely.
The music on here is gorgeous. Almost every song is like a "normal" bands closing song of a album: it his beautiful string work, some acoustic guitar, and such awesome emotion. The amazing thing about this is that Magnet is obviously a solo artist and that this is going on in about every song. For example, the song “Count” has great string work, some piano work, and the overall emotion of the song is fantastic. Or the Bob Marley cover, “Shes Gone”, where Magnet completely makes this song his own: by adding a whistling beat, a fantastic rhythmn to the song, and just the right amount of emotion. The songs have abrupt changes in beat that are sometimes very subtle and not noticeable, but you know that Magnet spent a lot of time making these little nuances to these songs. It is incredible that a solo artist can fit so many nuances into a song, but Magnet does it very well, an example of this is on the song "Lucid", where there are slight changes in the piano beat and a slick beat in the background just to make sure the lyrics fit the atmosphere that the music creates nicely. When the acoustic guitar is played on this album it is often in different styles which makes listening to this album more enjoyable. For example, on the song "A Little Happier", the acoustic guitar almost creates a folky-bluesly atmosphere that somehow fits the lyrics about self-discovery and love swiftly. Or in the song "The Simple Life", the guitar combined with the piano almost make the song sound like a Christmas carol while the lyrics sound like a big pity party. But again and most importantly the lyrics and the instruments synch. It's is incredible how Magnet can throw so many nuances into his music and still have his songwriting flow with the music and offer so much in each individual song. This makes this album even more of an intriguing experience and listen.
The catchiness of this album is very good as well. The songs don't neccesarily have the biggest choruses, but the songwriting is so strong that it is the individual lines and the choruses that are very catchy. The flow of the songs and the unforced lyrics make the whole song catchy not just the chorus. This is what makes Magnet unique, because in most solo albums the artist rely very heavily on the chorus and just kind and care little about about the surrounding lines and music. But Magnet cares a lot about the catchiness of the whole track and you can tell he really took his time creating this album.
If there is any negative to the album it may be that Magnet tried to do to much. Every song tries to be what I refered to as the "closer" and it is impossible to notice every nuance he throws into every song. It is almost like he spent to much time trying to create a "masterpiece" and sometimes the album just runs out of steam when you are listening to it. But for the most part it is a very enjoyable album.
So the Norwegians are right, Magnet is a great solo artist. All of his strengths are shown on this album and he is an artist to watch out for in the future. He is a great songwriter, a great musician, and his catchiness is off the charts. This makes the album “The Simple Life” very enjoyable and a recommended listen.
You Got Me
A Little Happier
Slice Of Heaven
Atmosphere the music creates
Rarely a fast or upbeat song
All songs fit at the end of a “normal” album