We’ll be honest, we’re suckers for an unplugged session. There’s just something about stripping songs down to their bare bones and reimagining the arrangements that gives it a whole new dimension, and Bowling for Soup’s ‘Acoustic In A Freakin’ English Church’ is no different.
To be accurate, it is only Jaret Reddick and bassist Erik Chandler performing the band’s songs as a double act, and this special show from 2013 in London’s Union Chapel is the culmination of their annual acoustic tour.
From the word go these songs take on a gravitas otherwise lacking on your average BFS release, as ‘Me With No You’ opens with an air of melancholy and is bare, bleak and brilliant. ‘Almost’ follows in more upbeat style; there’s also a bit of a sing along and some chat as they interrupt the song over a t-shirt, giving the whole thing the feel of a get together with old friends.
And that’s the overriding vibe of the nineteen songs on offer here – a mix of cool tunes played among friends that are given an added emotional layer. The high points include the excellent ‘2113’, which is a bittersweet slice of heartache with a nice vocal contribution from Chandler. Then there’s the lovely ‘Goodbye Friend’ and broken hearted love song ‘Come Back to Me’.
Pretty much everything works in this format though, whether it’s spiky deadpan numbers like ‘The Bitch Song’, crowd participation and all, songs that lose their way and descend into comedy like ‘Two Seater’ and the shambolic ‘All Figured Out’ or barbed critiques like ‘Punk Rock 101’ and ‘Really Cool Dance Song’.
All in all this is a really cool collection of tracks sure to please any die-hard fan or lover of a good gig.
‘Acoustic In A Freakin’ English Church’ by Bowling For Soup is out now.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)