Former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle.
Former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle. Jeff Hawe
Note: Audio for this feature is no longer available. In most cases, audio for 'Exclusive First Listens' is only available until the album is released.
Few songwriters possess Jason Lytle's gift for telling stories. In a 15-year run as the frontman and creative force behind the Modesto, Calif., rock band Grandaddy, Lytle penned an inspired catalog of neo-psychedelic pop songs, with gut-punch tales of destitute drunks, failed suburban dreams and at least one robot that died from a broken heart. They're songs that unfold with the plainspoken elegance of a Raymond Carver short story, striking a curious and utterly affecting balance between the cosmic and the comic.
Lytle's new solo album, his first since Grandaddy disbanded in 2006, doesn't skip a beat. Yours Truly, The Commuter, is a Grandaddy record in everything but name. The biggest difference is not in its sound, but in its production. Lytle played and recorded every instrument and sang all the lead vocals and harmonies by himself at his home studio in Montana.
"I'm a sucker for a universal theme," Lytle says. For Yours Truly, The Commuter, those themes are fueled by his own internal conflicts between obligation and inspiration.
"The title is making reference to this fascination that I've had with traveling from one world to another," he says. "Not so much physically, more so mentally. And in this case, it's the struggle with wanting to be a responsible, civil, bill-paying human being, but having to deal with transitioning into being an irresponsible, idealistic dreamer who's just trying to make art. Most of my struggles in the past have been trying and usually failing to blend those worlds, although I think I'm getting better."
Yours Truly, The Commuter comes out on May 19.