Divided Heaven


Written by: LF on 27/03/2014 15:41:25

The name of Divided Heaven used to be synonymous with Jeff Berman and his punk-influenced, guitar based singer-songwriter style, but on this sophomore album, "Youngblood", the name covers a full band. As opposed to the debut "A Rival City" from 2011 where it was just the man and his guitar, the songs of this album all have strong backing although many of them still adhere to a stripped-down, acoustic sound very similar to his previous work.

What struck me at first and what I can still only momentarily get out of my head, is how much his voice resembles someone like Billie Joe Armstrong, just set in more acoustic surroundings than what Green Day normally plays. This is especially dominating on one of the rawer tracks called "P. Levi", with its romantic, revolutionary lyrics about symphonies of firing guns and how singing is our weapon, the entire thing reminding me of the general sound of Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" album. While I do like this confident voice, Berman seems to never change the power-level of it, and while this vocal style is fitting on "P. Levi", he ends up proclaiming some of his more emotional lyrics in a way that feels a little forced and ultimately creates a weird distance between him and the listener. A song like "Kew Gardens" really illustrates this problem with its very simple set-up that never grabs me as deeply emotionally as it really intends to, judging by the sound of its delicate guitars and "ooh"-ing choir.

That being said, his melodies are absolutely infectious, supported by easy to remember lyrical rhymes like "Glorious, notorious" in the title track, or "Crooked Smiles / Brutal Miles" and "Melissa, Militia" in the songs of the same names. The more up-beat songs with their simple but cool chorus-harmonies work excellently, especially the amazing "Ego and Nothing More" which has been popping into my mind daily along with the similarly strong chorus of "Safety-Pinned Heart". "Gin" ends everything on a brilliant, melancholic note with this chorus: "If I leave myself hanging dry / I'll come back for the gin / If I grow tired of this foolish ship / I'll strip and dive right in / I could cheat just like the movies / When reality breathes stale / Too young to plan, too old to fail".

While Berman really succeeds in writing well-structured songs that are easily remembered, I'm convinced that I'll only revisit three or four of them in the next couple of months, because the feeling of distance I mentioned is beginning to annoy me after having heard the album quite a few times. However, those three or four songs are pretty sure to stay with me for a long time, and thus I can only recommend you check out the songs in the download-section below.


Download: Ego and Nothing More, Safety-Pinned Heart, Gin, P. Levi
For The Fans Of: Sundowner, Sam Russo, Matt Pryor
Listen: facebook.com/dividedheaven

Release date 25.03.2014
Say-10 Records

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