Review: “Undeclared: The Indie Songbook”
by Jessica Barton on September 9, 2011
Greetings faithful nerds! Looking for a writer you might like? GOOD! I HAVE ONE! His name is Matt Albrecht and I wanted to mention Undeclared: The Indie Songbook to you nerds because it’s a creative and awesome idea and I think more people should know about it. Music geeks and book nerds and everyone in between will enjoy this, in my humble opinion, and if you’re anything like m,e you’ll really be able to relate to some of these short stories. I can’t be sure whether it’s the short story-esque setup or the musical stylings that they’re based on that appeals to me most but I LOVED this. It’s the kind of thing I wish I would’ve thought of first (damn it).
Undeclared: The Indie Songbook is a collection of short stories and creative essays compiled to tell a grander story of growing up in an age of ambivalence. It’s about disillusioned young artists and outcasts desperately clawing their way out of their shallow graves, struggling to reach for the hands of kind and upbeat strangers who pass briefly by.
Each story straddles the line between prose and poetry, attempting to capture the very essence of the artists who inspired the stories. Undeclared is compiled into what appears to be a mix CD, and the work connects to a blog where links to buy the songs, read the lyrics or listen to streaming mp3s can be found.
Making use of these supplementary materials adds infinite enrichment to the reading experience. It really does! Check it out, if you have the time, because it’s worth it. I’d delve deeper into the intricacies of the stories themselves, but I feel like it might ruin some of the magic in picking it up and just going with it. I advise you to do yourself the favor and spend the $2.99 on Amazon or $9.99 on Lulu if you’re able.
What I WILL say without ruining much is that Albrecht writes from an interesting and clearly creative point of view. The author manages to weave these stories together in a way that keeps the reader turning the proverbial pages (unless you buy it at Lulu; then you can turn real pages!), knowing the stories will end but hoping they won’t. It’s a lot like a really good album in that sense and that’s not an easy task for any writer to accomplish. The aforementioned prose and poetry line almost completely blurs at times, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the rhythm, especially if you keep the accompanying song in mind. The setup in the beginning of the book is done track-listing style, and from the first page, you’ll probably be hooked. While it isn’t an unprecedented setup, Albrecht has no trouble making it his own.
If I had to pick, I think either “Halloween” or “Salt and Pollen” would be my favorite short, but it’s kind of like deciding which kitten is the cutest in a Super Cute Kitten Contest. (They have those, right?) Make sure you stick around for the hidden track too. Can you go wrong with She & Him-inspired work? Well, somebody probably could, but Matt doesn’t.