Rating (8.6)

Pete Yorn's debut album Musicforthemorningafter came at the right time for me: an adolescent down on his luck with girls and life and everything in-between. Eight years later, Back & Forth has grabbed me the same way. Call it nostalgia, call it good timing, call it refined bitterness parelling the life of a singer/songwriter putting out his most touching, honest album in years.

Back & Forth is subtle in its heart-on-sleeve moments, like in "Thinking of You" where he offers "it won't happen again...'til the next time"; a glimpse of openess and self-awareness one might find too paralyzing to admit even to themselves. The album gives way for an introspective, self-reflective Yorn; less innocent than his beginnings, much less doe-eyed and mopey. If Morning was like hitting rockbottom, then Back & Forth is a manic-depressive revisit, this time a self aware experience, readying oneself for impact. His hushed, cloudy vocals still yank at heartstrings with lyrical charm. Though he's not a literary genius by any means, Yorn writes candidly, like someone curled up with a pen and journal, stipped bare and fueled by their emotions.

Back & Forth is a fluid album, unlike the few leading up to it which felt more like compilations of songs and styling that, though well-oiled, were all over the map, many times over-produced and less-than-sincere. Whether he's singing about a "white trash beach" or a "social development dance" Yorn has a unique way of telling stories without overloading you with detail; he combines abstract ("I keep seeing you in sheets of white") with solid recollection ("we were great last summer").

In Yorn's 2003 hit, "Crystal Village" he sang "it was good in the beginning." He returns to that beginning, to tge strong roots clenching tighly to Musicforthemorningafter, and adding life experiences, growth, and maturity along the way.