Multi-instrumentalist John Lisi Welcomes You Home with “I Hope This Feels Good” [Album Review]

As if directly inspired by Steve Lacy’s Ted Talk on the creative possibilities brought about by advanced technology, John Lisi created I Hope This Feels Good, a gentle, soft-around-the-edges album.

Employing jazz and alternative stylings with his saxophone, guitars, keyboard, and computer, the project keeps its allure over many replays.

I Hope This Feels Good’s cover art tells you much of what you need to know about the album. Lisi, a Berkeley College of Music standout, sits amongst his instruments, comfortable that he’s a four piece band all by himself. Listening to the album, you could conclude that his primary instrument is any of those listed above. His style is soothing, with gentle notes throughout the project.

Further creating a comfortable atmosphere is his singing voice, which seldom rises above a breathy whisper. I Hope This Feels Good’s sonic environment does well to help listeners process lyrical themes of unrequited love and personal insecurity.

The third track, “ljfsa,” is saxophone-forward, an expressive and lyrical piece with crashing drums to support. Sticking to a few motifs, he throws in some ear-catching improvisation which keeps things engaging through the whole song.

My personal favorite track is “Oh Beautiful (Please Don’t Leave).” The song opens with a tear-jerking guitar section, a gently-strummed lullaby. The guitar deepens in pitch throughout the track, but ends with a few bright notes — a happy conclusion to a heart-seeking track.

“Brainfood” is an aptly named track, pushing the listener to listen a little closer and understand the stories behind his lyrics. The chorus sings: “There’s blood in the water (2x) / there’s something out of order / there’s blood in the water.” The second verse opens with my favorite lyric on the project: “I make my mind up like I make my bed / Only when I have to.”

Ever self-aware, Lisi named the last track “A Song for Everyone.” It’s an appreciative outro to the album, as he sings, “When the lights go out in the city / when the owls fly out tonight / when your eyelids fall cause they’re heavy / I’ll be working up a song for you.” The song portrays his dedication to music — it’s clearly a mutually beneficial relationship between the two.
I Hope This Feels Good is a deftly composed, easily replayable project that fits a variety of social and anti-social situations.

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