The Fresh & Onlys’ frontman Tim Cohen has been pretty prolific over the past five years. Splitting his time between creating music with The Fresh & Onlys, solo songs, and Magic Trick, Cohen’s most recent work Other Man’s Blues is the follow up to Magic Trick’s 2013 release River of Souls. With this project Cohen picks friends that he likes to make music with and they flesh out the song ideas that Cohen has. For this album Cohen chose a mostly female band to record with him. Combine that with the production and Other Man’s Blues captures a much cleaner soundscape than past releases from Magic Trick.
The album opens with the track “More” and does a sublime job of letting the listener know what they are in for. Embracing the 60’s psych and folk sounds of previous releases, the addition of three part female vocal harmonies floating in the background gives a whole new outlook to the sound. The vocal harmonies on “More” lend a sort of spaghetti-western vibe to the sort of languid beat that carries the song. Emmett Kelly of The Muggers provides some stellar guitar solos on “First Thought” and “Eternal Summer”, which emulate the 70’s sounds of Neil Young and Eric Clapton, respectively. “Scorpio” comes close to sounding like early Magic Trick releases with its multi-part arrangement; starting with a violin playing over bass and drums, it transitions to a trumpet playing out a Spanish sounding tune before evolving into a harmonium based melody. The lyrics on most of the songs are what Cohen calls pretty/sad songs. Most of the songs on the album have the sound of happy psych-pop, yet contain lyrics of a sadder nature when you sit back and listen to them. This is noticeable on “Startling Chimes” where the guitars take a back seat to a pounding drum beat and vocals and Cohen laments “I think about in the day/I dream about you at night/I wait for you in the morning/But it’s too late”.
The revolving nature of the musicians on each Magic Trick album makes it difficult to attribute any one thing to a particular musician besides Cohen’s songwriting. About a dozen of Cohen’s friends recorded Other Man’s Blues, many times splitting duties with other musicians. However, it does seem to be what making music should be about anyway, and this collective of artists have created some aurally pleasing music around the frameworks of Cohen’s composition book. To further push this idea of a musician’s collective, Magic Trick is including a notated songbook with the new album so that fans can play along.