Album Review: “Disaster” by Zachary Boudrot

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Zachary Boudrout reflects on suburbia amidst a pandemic on his new album Disaster.

Released on March 20, 2020, when talk of a nation-wide quarantine was a mere rumor, Zachary Boudrot’s album Disaster harkens back to a simpler pre-pandemic time. Whereas some albums make us long for festivals or a return to the bustle of a typical day, Disaster provides us with a much more intimate experience: It explores the moments left unappreciated before the lockdown—late-night car rides to nowhere, last call at the bar on rainy nights, deep conversations with a stranger you just met hours ago. 

While these moments may seem somber in thought, Zach strives to find the joy in the little things: “you and I will be just fine,” he sings in the album’s opening and titular track. Boudrot, along with a roster of Massachusetts natives, paints the kind of Americana portrayed on the album’s artwork. Tambourine bells and bright accents on a xylophone juxtapose Zach’s steady guitar playing and treading vocal melody, singing about the desire to find safety and security in others. 

The contrast between Zach’s beautifully crafted indie-folk snapshots and the additional arrangements of synth, drums, and melodic percussion remains throughout the album’s duration. oldsoul drummer Chris Henault lends tight beats which give tracks like “The Coil,”’ a forward drive or crashing cymbals walls of cymbals engulf the listener in sonic in the sonic apex of “Sorry.” Other oldsoul member Jess Hall provides vocal harmonies which perfectly garnish tracks like parsley on your favorite soup. And while Boudrot’s knack for writing a catchy tune is clearly the focal point here, other instrumental layers from Daisybones members Lucas Delisle, Dillon Bailey, and Andrew Ring make even the quietest moments of the album sound fully orchestrated. 

Songs like “Duck and Cover (Hangnail)” and “Confidence Can Kill” feel like snapshots of moments had in small town suburbia: “he got a hangnail beating on his brother / and I think that’s where she got it from,” he writes on the former, describing the lasting impact of fights between loved ones can have. His lyrics on “Confidence” depict the unfortunate night of a man whose judgment is blurred amid a night of binge-drinking: “I bet he felt bigger than Tuck Everlasting / ‘Are you too drunk to drive?’ until that’s what she asked him.” The song serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of drinking and driving, and how quickly an impaired decision could have fatal repercussions.

The album closes on a quieter note with “The Only One,” a reminder of the solitude found in being alone with one’s art. Its ending soundscape allows a moment of reflection after an album that breathes emotion through its dynamic highs and lows, and whose lyricism tells stories of human connection through snapshots of minor intimacy. Disaster is an album that celebrates the beauty of the personal relationships we make, and the complexities that come with them. It’s ever-so-fitting during a time when the absence of these experiences has left the world more disconnected than ever. 

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