I don’t envy Yellowcard’s night after night chore of choosing a set list at this point, even just the skeleton of a set list. The difference between Yellowcard and other band’s that have made it to five records (and an EP release or two on top of that) is that fans connect with the majority of each record. The result isn’t an easy 10-20 choice of songs to play each night. It’s a ridiculous 40-50 song choice that makes it impossible to guarantee everybody walks away from a show completely satisfied. Nonetheless, it’s a good problem to have but a problem that’s only going to get worse after the release of their latest album, Southern Air.
Inspired by Ryan Key’s return to living in the south- in Athens, Georgia no less- Southern Air is what the band should sound like. I love Paper Walls and When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes but most fans like the band’s stuff that’s inspired by the southern attitude. There’s something about the vibe of youth and peace on Ocean Avenue. There’s something about the band’s longing for home and hating L.A. on Lights and Sounds too. People just connect with those albums better. Southern Air has this southern feel to it but it’s a different southern feel. It’s about a guy whose getting older and looking back on his life, but living in an environment that allows him to do that. It’s mellow/acoustic driven record, it just has a lot of that emotion bleeding out of it through it’s lyrics. Musically it sounds like a Yellowcard album. It’s got the same type of energy that people have come to expect song to song and album to album. Musically only a couple of things are done differently. There’s a completely acoustic song as something not completely new, a few changes in guitar solos, and a couple of odds and ends here and there, but there’s no doubt that Southern Air is pure Yellowcard.
Fans of the band will connect with this album lyrically, especially the adult crowd already in or coming on their 30s. There’s a lot to identify- that includes the active tracks “Here I Am Alive” and “Always Summer” to the absolutely gut-wrenching acoustic song, “Ten.” Southern Air holds true to the quality of work that you’d expect out of this band, but it doesn’t make the task of choosing a set list night after night any easier for them. There are ten songs on this album to listen to over and over again.