15 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ha Ha Tonka occupies an interesting and loosely defined territory on the Americana map. Fans and critics frequently liken the group to Paul Simon for its literate, stylistically ambitious songs, which employ a grandly rhythmic approach far beyond the band’s roots in Springfield, Mo. (“Staring at the End of Our Lives” sounds like a lost song from Graceland.) The “Lessons” implied in the album’s title are literal. According to the band, the inspiration for this fourth album rests with the late illustrator and (in)famous children’s author Maurice Sendak. The band muses on the creative process and what it means to be an artist, with Sendak’s irreverent, joyous, cranky, and hilarious views of life included in the process. To better capture a world of wonder, the band opted for playful, orchestrated arrangements beyond its usual economical style, with the title track berating oneself for having to learn the same life lessons over and over. “Rewrite Our Lives,” with a jittery rhythm, meets a midlife crisis head-on. “Dead to the World” humorously acknowledges being too worn out to change.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ha Ha Tonka occupies an interesting and loosely defined territory on the Americana map. Fans and critics frequently liken the group to Paul Simon for its literate, stylistically ambitious songs, which employ a grandly rhythmic approach far beyond the band’s roots in Springfield, Mo. (“Staring at the End of Our Lives” sounds like a lost song from Graceland.) The “Lessons” implied in the album’s title are literal. According to the band, the inspiration for this fourth album rests with the late illustrator and (in)famous children’s author Maurice Sendak. The band muses on the creative process and what it means to be an artist, with Sendak’s irreverent, joyous, cranky, and hilarious views of life included in the process. To better capture a world of wonder, the band opted for playful, orchestrated arrangements beyond its usual economical style, with the title track berating oneself for having to learn the same life lessons over and over. “Rewrite Our Lives,” with a jittery rhythm, meets a midlife crisis head-on. “Dead to the World” humorously acknowledges being too worn out to change.

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