Ivan and Alyosha‘s It’s All Just Pretend is deeply American music. The songs here take cues from straight-ahead major-key rock (“All This Wandering Around”), country (“Drifting Away”), piano-hammering ’50s pop (“Let Me Go East”), and timeless balladeering (“Tears in Your Eyes,” “Don’t Lose Your Love”) to pull together an attractive, affecting collection. The diversity of song styles and structures is held together by Tim Wilson’s inviting voice and the familial lyrical themes.
Wilson’s tenor has a uniquely magnetic quality: vocalists that are both distinctive and attractive in their tone are rare. It’s tough to describe the X factor, but it’s all over the chorus of “Bury Me Deep,” the first single and most rocking tune of the album. Wilson’s excellent delivery is one of the things that draws me back to the album over and over. The lyrics also help: the album explores the thoughts, fears, and joys of having a family and growing older. The moving expression of familial love in “Come Rain, Come Shine” slots it right near Ben Folds’ “Still Fightin’ It,” while the tender acoustic ballad “Don’t Lose Your Love” reiterates that love in pleas/advice. The title track combines the sentiment of “Don’t Lose Your Love” with a sweet guitar riff and another stellar vocal performance from Wilson. In short, It’s All Just Pretend is an album that clicks on all cylinders. Knowing that their live show is excellent (I saw them in Chapel Hill in May–the songs sound just as great live, if not better in some cases), it leaves me very excited for Ivan and Alyosha’s future.