Fans of The Teskey Brothers may be surprised with Sam Teskey’s debut offering, Cycles. It is a departure from the band’s usual blues-rock sound and instead is a mesmerising, almost genre-less, body of work.
Channelling his passion for the psychedelic sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, the guitarist/ singer/ engineer funnels his creativity to devise a concept album that expands beyond the era. Teskey also draws upon folk, bluegrass, symphonic poetry, and subdued yet incongruous soundscapes to share an instrumental and lyrical narrative focussed on the theme of Cycles.
He commences the limitless odyssey with the current single Love, a classic love song and the most commercial of the seven (or eleven) song album. While Love – and Til the River Takes Us Home – initially appear to not complement the remainder of the songs, they belong exactly where placed in the song list when considered holistically.
That is what Teskey is hoping listeners will do with Cycles; appreciate the album as a whole while valuing each song as a standalone. Doubling down on this notion, he even contrives the song titles to read as an exhaustive poem:
Let the sun bring the light
Til the river takes us home
If the dove is sold
Our world goes cold
Then Love returns.
This little nugget is a testament to Teskey’s devotion for the project and brings with it sentimentality and an endearing quality.
Beyond the overall conceptuality and intricate details of Cycles, it is an enjoyable album to listen to. From the ghostly yet danceable Don’t Fear, the summer of love vibes of Let the Sun Bring the Light, and the sixteen-minute epic If the Dove is Sold/ Our World Goes Cold, listeners are taken on a cyclic journey that may be better served with the toke of a joint or the pop of a pill. Nevertheless, when Then Love Returns, the reprise of Love, is reached, the journey feels complete.
Cycles offers a little something for everyone, but not everyone will enjoy Cycles. Because despite its genre-bending and creative endeavours, it is nothing we have not heard before. While this does not detract from the album, it is sure to turn some listeners off.
There is no doubt Cycles is a passion project. With it, Teskey has highlighted his impressive musicianship, sheer talent, and creativity to produce a solid and complete album worthy of multiple listens.
Album Review By Anita Kertes