Album Review: Bahamas – Bahamas Is Afie

Afie Jurvanen has always stayed true to himself, utilizing simple titles and themes to mine the most tender moments of life while revealing them in his music. On his third release Bahamas Is Afie Jurvanen returns with another honest and heartfelt record that reflects the developments in his life both as a musician and as a man.

Bahamas Is Afie is a humble and honest collection to follow up 2009’s Barchords. Featuring his wife’s wedding ring on the cover, Jurvanen’s third release is another excellent demonstration of the man’s soothing voice which compliments his guitar tone beautifully. While Afie’s sound hasn’t changed much over his career, his ability to reveal intimate moments during life’s day-to-day will bring you back time and time again after initial listens.

“If you’re feelin’ bad, wave your hand at a cab,

And hitch a ride to the other side of the town.

I’ll be standing there, to pay the taxi’s fare

And lend an ear, dry the the tears of a friend who’s down.”

The lead single ‘Stronger Than That’ offers Afie’s quirky reflections on strength and struggle while also extending a hand to the song’s recipient. If this all sounds too serious, the video to accompany the single is as light and warm as Afie’s music, featuring a pack of body-builders who are all too happy to demonstrate their physical abilities while a relatively skinny Afie watches on. It’s a simple and effective theme that nicely emphasizes the deep but playful lyrics.

Consistency is another common theme throughout Bahamas Is Afie whether it be in the form of Afie’s reliable voice or his smart, slow lyrics. While Afie is often found discovering new ways to illuminate topics with soft and gentle music, the lack of punch leaves the listener yearning for something more, whatever it may be. Afie established himself as Bahamas by utilizing a gentle voice and consonant guitar tones to decorate his music, however as he continues to release material a lack of style or flash seems to linger. Maybe it is Jurvanen’s soft-spoken Canadian nature, but after three albums of similar material I feel as if Bahamas remains well within its comfort zone.

Now that isn’t to say that Bahamas Is Afie is a bad album by any means, vanilla as it may be. Afie Jurvanen has made another dozen beautiful and soothing songs that serve as excellent background music, however under close inspection his latest release fails to leave its mark like Barchords did. The bouncing twang of ‘Little Record Girl’ and lush instrumentation of ‘All I’ve Ever Known’ provide high-points during the latter half of the record, but they seem to stand out simply by contrast against an otherwise bland backdrop.

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If you enjoyed Bahamas’ previous releases you will certainly find Bahamas Is Afie worth several listens, however at some point I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you too find yourself yearning for more as Afie continues to navigate his audible comfort zone with ease.

Kevin Vanstone preferred Barchords to Bahamas Is Afie but still enjoyed them both all the same. Tell him he’s wrong on Twitter @KevinVanstone.

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