BY JOHN B. MOORE
The concept behind Brooklyn-based songwriter Jascha Hoffman’s The Afterneath is admittedly a tad creepy, if taken at face value: an album’s worth of songs about real people, now dead. But two songs in, you realize how absolutely beautiful the experiment is, paying homage to the famous (Jack Kevorkian, Bud Dwyer, J. Paul Getty III) and the less so (George Hendry, Wally Boag).
Hoffman’s day job penning obits for the New York Times likely had more than a little influence on his subjects matter at the time of concept. The result, though is nothing less than strikingly impressive. Hoffman takes a Randy Newman/Harry Nilsson approach to songwriting, bringing to life his subjects through humor, quirks and real life struggles. His piano-heavy musical style is reminiscent of the two, as well.
Hoffman perfectly encapsulates the lives of everyone from a model airplane enthusiast (“The Little Airplane”), and a politician who committed suicide on live TV (“The Pistol”) to a Cambodian painter and activist (“The Freezer”).
What could have easily careened into sensationalistic territory by a lazier songwriter, turned into a fascinating album of beauty and tribute heard through a pop music filter.
DOWNLOAD: “The Little Airplane,” “The Tennis Table” and “The River”