On Friday, July 13, 2007, J.A. Ziemba caught his wife Amanda cheating on him with another man. While the couple had previously recorded together as The Like Young, Love At Thirty is J.A. Ziemba’s musical interpretation of the events leading up to and resulting from that day. As such, it’s by definition a bit self-absorbed. Written and recorded chronologically, Love At Thirty takes you through the betrayal and its fallout with sometimes excruciating humility. You’ll hear about the birthday card that tipped Ziemba off, the discovery, the confrontation and breakup, the suicidal thoughts, the eventual recovery.
The very nature of the situation means that cliches are in no short supply. But Ziemba’s thoughtful, levelheaded approach saves the album from turning into a bitter, musical blog post. That and the music itself. Released on “twee-pop” flagship Parasol, Love At Thirty is full of rich, well-crafted indie pop that draws heavily on the Beach Boys and the Beatles as well as next-generation melodicists like Neil Finn and Squeeze. Yeah, there are some self-indulgent dirges, with baroque strings and muisque concrète touches. But sharp, peppy numbers like “Confidants”, “Birthday Card”, and “When One Is Together” provide more than enough relief. It’s still a bit too delicate, but Love At Thirty is therapy for the artist and the listener.