Wilmington, North Carolina singer/songwriter Andy Bilinski has been busy since the release of his first EP ‘Snow’s Cut Park’ last year. Hot off a European circuit the musician directly returned to the studio. And its little wonder, one listen to his last album or a glance at the name of his newest venture, ‘The Great Escape,’ reveals a renewed focus on the theme of passing time. While ‘Snow’s Cut Park’ was a somber, meditative album akin to a long-form reflection on the classically sentimental Pink Floyd track “Time,” his latest work in sound and content lies closer to the elation and jubilation of breaking out of the big house in defiance of a life sentence.
One is naturally inclined to think Bilinski is making up for lost time. No doubt, tracks like “Thinking Out Loud,” revel in daydreams of childhood longing, those sweet innocent hours wasted wondering about the world at large. And it’s no great stretch of the imagination to compare childhood to many of the traps we as adults find ourselves stuck in. Whether the confinement be an unproductive relationship, the dreary repression of gainful employment, or other prisons either literal or metaphorical, like children we find ourselves relentlessly controlled and unable to exercise the basic liberties we thought we could come to expect.
But none ye worry, for there’s always the dream of escape. Mid-album inclusion, “Summer Rain,” is the perfect soundtrack to such ambitions. Lifting upward from the murk of moody rhythms and minor chord progressions that populate the first half of the album, drifting piano lines and a pleasant feminine duet build to crescendo over a resounding chorus about the mixture of fear and joy in the uncertainty of that long sought liberty.
As a whole, Bilinski’s work on ‘The Great Escape,’ shows growth in both song and lyrical composition from his past work. The new album feels so much more filled out than ‘Snow’s Cut Park,’ by virtue of attention to backing instrumentation and a more layered, dynamic direction. While the album’s primary vehicle remains the acoustic guitar, fiddle accompaniment and piano melody go to great lengths in creating continuity and an over-all fuller sound. There is a great deal of sadness and searching on ‘The Great Escape,’ to be sure that fact remains lockstep with past endeavors, but the album also shows promising signs of a positive future.