For their new album, the Josh Abbott Band have announced that the project will be sort of a concept album, written in wake of Abbott’s divorce from his wife after his admitted infidelity. The album, Front Row Seat, is essentially the story of Abbott’s whole relationship with his now ex-wife, from beginning to end. Said Abbott of the album:
“‘Front Row Seat’ really was representative of what we we’re doing here…That’s a song by Ruston Kelly, and it’s all about having a front row seat, having this access to someone’s life. Anybody that is married, you have a front row seat to her life and she has one to yours. We’re kind of giving the fans a front row seat, not only to our band but to my story.”
The first taste of this concept album comes in the form of the first single, officially called “Amnesia (Act 5).” Sonically, the song sounds rather generic, kicking off with a banjo strum that seems out-of-place compare to the rest of the production. “Amnesia” carries a heavier, mid-tempo beat which does fit nicely alongside the lyrical content, but it’s almost as if the song was recorded over a generic pop rock best selected from a GarageBand program. Like most country songs nowadays, there’s one token country instrument for qualification while the rest of the song sounds bland and boring. Even Josh Abbott’s vocals don’t sound country; his Texas twang found in many of his early Josh Abbott Band songs is nonexistent on this track.
Lyrically, the song finds Abbott in a mental rut, desperately missing his woman. He pleads and wishes for amnesia, because completely forgetting he had her in his life sounds better than dealing with the pain of missing her. It’s a great starting point and could be an intriguing topic when fleshed out well, but that’s not the case here. The first verse sets up this picture of amnesia over memories, but the chorus and subsequent verses fail to add anything new to that image. The song becomes quite repetitive quickly with no redeeming value.
It’s unfair, though, for me to completely disregard the lyrics in this song. As one can easily deduce, “Amnesia” is part of the fifth act of this upcoming concept album. Even though the song in itself fails to draw out a complete story, we have to understand that this song is part of a bigger story. Abbott lays out that there are five acts to the story, with this last act being the aftermath of it all: where the album’s characters are picking up the pieces and trying to move on. “Amnesia” is a small snapshot of a bigger picture. Hearing the song within the context of the album, with the songs that depict rise and fall of the relationship ahead of it, may explain why the song isn’t as fleshed out as you’d expect. With that said, as a standalone song, “Amnesia’s” repetitive lyrics and generic production don’t do it any favors. Part of a bigger story or not, this chapter has no creativity.