Bouncing Souls frontman Gregory Attonito has joined the roster of dudes from punk bands who record acoustic solo records with his six-song EP “Natural Disaster.” And while “sweet” and “tender” may not be words one would ever use to describe the Souls, both of those adjectives fit perfectly with Attonito’s material.
The opening track, “How Many Songs,” starts with a “woo woo” (different from the Souls signature “whoa-oa”) and Attonito’s distinctive voice semi-a-capella before launching into some sharply-picked acoustic guitar. Right off the bat, the listener knows that if they were expecting a punk record, this isn’t the place to be. It’s a scaled-back love song with some xylophone in the background, and it sets the tone for the whole record.
Song number two, “Volcano,” heavily features a mute trumpet, is a little more lilty and soft than the first track was, with a hint of what almost feels like jazz from the horn. “Cincinnati Dream” is backed by piano, with a lullaby sound and “Sexiest Girl” opens with a slightly country sounding slide guitar line that continues throughout the song. “Eyes,” is a pretty straightforward guitar-and-vocals track, which lets the listener can really focus on the words. The closer, “Teardrops,” has a fuller sound than the rest, but the lyrics pretty much sum up the whole thing: “Love is what I’m searching for/Love is what I’m searching for/It’s right at my door.”
“Natural Disaster” is as far away from a Bouncing Souls record as it could possibly be — if Attonito didn’t have one of the most recognizable voices in punk, you might not even realize there was any connection at all. It’s a stripped-down acoustic album, and it shines lyrically as well as sonically. It’s so intimate it feels like you’re listening to a man sitting quietly at home, just playing for himself, and the feeling of vulnerability is what makes it work.
Six songs coming from the point of being completely and hopelessly in love could come across as cheesy if they didn’t have two things going for them — the first is, of course, the rawness and honesty that have been poured in. The second is something that any fan of Attonito’s work should know about already — his ability to write lyrics that are catch while still portraying an emotion that nearly everyone can relate to.
If you come into this EP expecting to hear punk, or even something punk-adjacent, you will leave disappointed. But if you embrace it for what it is — an honest and raw bare-bones acoustic record about love — it’s a strong effort with compelling vocals and simple but beautiful melodies.
The EP is available for streaming here.