Floating on dreamy melodies and wandering rhythms, Only For A Time is a nostalgic letter to a long distance lover as well as a radiant serenade to summer. 

Released at the end of August, as summer came to a close, Only For A Time breathes warm weather through shifting seasons and time zones to explore the tug-of-war between distance and connection. Brian Fisher, the musician behind the Eastern Souvenirs moniker, explains: “I wrote this album as I was reflecting on the long-distance relationship with my girlfriend (now wife) and the process of moving across the country to be together… I think it encapsulates some of that hopeful energy of being in a new place and a new relationship while also addressing the insecurities that come with it.”

The album opens with “On A Train,” and the track’s title is evoked immediately with a chugging rhythm softened by dreamy touches of harp that perfectly capture the contemplative feeling of looking out a train window, along with the heavy-heartedness that comes with embarking on a long journey. Nodding to the title of the album, the chorus echoes: “It’s only for a time / A few months we’ll be fine;” expansive vocals create the feeling of distance right from the start. Once settled in the movement, “Long Road” is an ode to love of boundless travel with crisp percussion and buoyant vocals that announce: “Got a long road stretching ahead of me, got a lot that I’m leaving behind.” The light and bubbly beat and the lyrics’ proclamation of clearing out the old to make room for the new end the track on a confident and optimistic note. 

Still, Eastern Souvenirs can’t help but recall what is left behind on “No One Else.” Gritty bass drums lead into the sparkly synths of the chorus, where Eastern Souvenirs reassures a long distance lover through lyrics that testify to the uniqueness of their connection: “I want you to know that you’re not / Like anyone else my heart’s fallen for.” However, tracks like “Some Days” and “Time Zones” acknowledge that there will be moments full of insecurity and doubt. Weighed down by a plodding rhythm, booming vocals, and heavy bass, the lyrics of “Some Days” match this measured pace by begging for patience as Eastern Souvenirs navigates the loneliness and strain of long distance relationships. “Time Zones” further exposes the day-to-day difficulties in communicating across miles, employing a slinky guitar riff, ticking high hats, and dragging synths that give the track a somber and meditative feel.

In addition to grasping for connection, Eastern Souvenirs is forever searching for warmer weather. Still the daydreamer in the train window, the only lyrics of “Summer Souvenirs” are repeated like a mantra: “Summer is somewhere out there / summer is not too far away.” Crackles and pops of vinyl sounds in the background add to a nostalgic atmosphere while the rhythm uses funky looping and mixing that mimic the swelling of ocean waves. The beachy reverie continues on “Mint Lemonade,” which sketches out a lazy summer afternoon with silky vocals and poetic lyrics. Perfectly recalling the possibilities and freedom of summer love, this track is a soothing promise: good things are to come. 

But on “Postcards” and “Coming Home,” Eastern Souvenirs’ journey finally seems to be coming to a close. Snapping back to reality, “Postcards” rides on a simple keyboard riff and driving beat that highlights the impatience of the lyrics. With earnest vocals, Eastern Souvenirs has had enough of daydreaming and wants to trade in postcards and long distance communication for the real thing. But on “Coming Home,” acoustic guitar strums let the vocals echo in the intimate arrangement as contemplative lyrics question what comes next: “Even now as the seasons change, you remind me that nothing stays the same.” Only For A Time comes to a head here—summer is on the horizon, dreams are becoming reality, movement is traded in for stasis. But even though each instrument and vocal meanders along the mellow rhythm, Eastern Souvenirs never forgets the fleeting passage of time that causes seasons and relationships to fluctuate. 

In the middle of a global pandemic, Only For A Time arrives just on time. But Fisher never intended for the album to apply in this way: “I finished recording and mixing the album during the pandemic (which gave me lots of extra time) but the songs were written before it all happened. Nevertheless, the themes of distance and disorientation feel even more relevant in this context, albeit, more hopeful in tone.” Between the yellow dotted lines of the road and the steadfast beat of the drum, Eastern Souvenirs shifts between playfully unrestrained rhythms and introspective lyrics that make Only For A Time a timeless album for every season or a pandemic.

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