Album Review: Howie Day, “Stop All The World Now” (2003)

Chances are you heard the song Collide at least twenty times last summer. Howie Day’s single seemed to be on every radio station and music video channel, and was even heard in the background of TV shows and commercials.

If you liked the breeziness of Collide, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the rest of Howie’s sophomore release, Stop All The World Now. The album is filled with light rock tunes, well-written lyrics, and nice vocals from Day (who sounds something of a mix of Gavin Degraw and Coldplay’s Chris Martin).

Brace Yourself is the first track on the album. Some simple guitar work and piano set the tone for the rest of the mellow album. Day composed most of the tracks on the album, and plays guitar and piano for them as well. It’s needless to say that he’s got talent- this first song proves that his vocals are great as well as his musical ability.

Perfect Time Of Day is a more upbeat song, with another catchy chorus. This song would’ve been another good choice for a single; the airy melody and vocals make it the perfect soundtrack for a warm spring day.

It’s easy to see why Collide was such a hit. It starts off slowly with Day strumming on his guitar and the London Session Orchestra quietly playing strings. Lines like “You’re barely waking/And I’m tangled up in you” and “Even the best fall down sometime/Even the wrong words seem to rhyme” give the song a wide fan base; whether you’re listening to it because of a romantic entanglement in your life, or because you need a bit of inspiration, everyone can seem to find something to like about this song.

One of my favorite songs on the album is Trouble In Here. Again, the song starts off quietly, with guitar and piano. Day delivers his vocals so dejectedly during the verses that you feel the depression that goes along with the mood of the song. However, the album picks back up with Sunday Morning Song, a simple track that’s as light and breezy as a…well, Sunday morning. Again, the song is simply composed and Day’s vocals are again highlighted on this track.

Howiedaycrouching

I’ll Take You On is another mid-tempo track, and the Orchestra again adds a majestic beauty to the beginning of the track with their string section. I actually love this song. Day sounds very earnest as he sings about giving himself to someone who doesn’t seem to feel the same way he does (“Maybe I’m new at this/Or is it just your reaction/Be my illusion and I’ll/Be your distraction/…I’ll give it all away/But you don’t”). Before the bridge, the tempo kicks up and the Orchestra comes back in, providing for a stunning musical interlude.

She Says was the most recent single, and it’s another nice track. Though the lyrics, once again about unrequited love, are fairly simple (“And when she said she wants somebody else/I hope you know/She doesn’t mean you”), the pop beat made it an easy staple for AC radio and VH1.

Another of the standout, albeit depressing, tracks is Numbness For Sound. The track starts off with Day’s vocals, and as the first verse goes along, percussion is slowly added. The chorus picks up with guitar and piano, and then subsides again for the next verse. The song is about feeling lonely, and Day really seems to convey this with the lyrics (“Oh, and I’m thinking of leaving/I could just lay down/Lay down and freeze to death”) and the amount of emotion that he conveys in his voice. The title of the song is repeated in both the first and last verse and really drives home the sadness and solitude of the song.

You & A Promise again picks up the mood of the album. This isn’t one of my favorite tracks; musically, the guitar is a bit too much and borders on twangy. Though Day’s vocals sound fine as always, nothing special happens. End Of Our Days isn’t much better, but I do like listening to the song a lot more than its predecessor. The song starts off with simple piano, and sets a soft mood for the track. The song is about getting away from the world with your special someone, and the melody is perfect for such an occasion.

The original album ends with Come Lay Down, but since I own the limited edition slipcase version, there are more bonus tracks after this one. This is another gloomy track, but unlike some of the others on the album, doesn’t have enough lyrical weight to make it stand out. Again, it’s a nice song to listen to, but it’s very forgettable.

This Time Around and Standing In The Sun are the two original songs that are included as the bonus tracks. This Time Around is an upbeat song that sounds similar to Collide. Standing In The Sun is a simple and catchy song, though I think the album stands fine on it’s own without these bonus tracks. As I said, both are nice, but neither add much to the album besides length.

Brace Yourself and Collide are presented in acoustic form, and both are wonderful. We get a good glimpse of Day’s raw vocals, and he sounds great. His guitar work is awesome as well. Since buying this album last summer I also picked up his live EP Madrigals (which I’ll be reviewing soon), and these acoustic tracks give us a view of Day’s outstanding live performance.

Stop All The World Now is an outstanding album. Howie Day has found a way to mix beautiful melodies with thoughtful lyrics, and I’ve already added myself onto the long list of his fans.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Brace Yourself
2. Perfect Time Of Day
3. Collide
4. Trouble In Here
5. Sunday Morning Song
6. I’ll Take You On
7. She Says
8. Numbness For Sound
9. You & A Promise
10. End Of Our Days
11. Come Lay Down
12. This Time Around
13. Standing In The Sun
14. Brace Yourself – (acoustic)
15. Collide – (acoustic)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9ub9rpNK4]
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