[4 December 2008]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Timelines & Tragedies is an album chronicling lead singer’ Justin Lamoureax’s family history from their time as fur traders in French Canada to America during the Vietnam War and up to today in Omaha, where Lamoureax lives. To tell these stories, Midwest Dilemma aim for an orchestral type of folk music, something that sounds as steeped in history as its songs.
The album is heavy with ballads and waltzes, all full of horns and accordions and plenty of acoustic instruments. Each song seems carefully thought out and are meticulously executed. But that could be part of the problem. The music is solid, but sounds more like a history report than heartfelt music. And perhaps Lamoureax knows it, since his voice is always strained and histrionic. His stories are of people struggling through life, working for meager returns, failing to connect with each other when it is most important. And the closer he gets to the present, as in “Omaha” and “Damage is Done”, the better his stories work. But mostly, the album sounds like its trying too hard to sound like the past. Lamoureax and company would be better off mining more current events for their next release.