Can you be lonely, even when you’re with someone else every day? Do we often find our marriages as those places where we may not appreciate what we have until it’s gone?
The latest album from Andrew Osenga, “Leonard the Lonely Astronaut” (out tomorrow at The Rabbit Room) is a concept album that tackles those questions and more. The running storyline of the album follows Leonard as he blasts off from the earth on cargo spaceship. Leonard’s wife, who he was in the middle of divorce proceedings with has just suddenly passed away. And so, filled with a avalanche of emotions from sadness to anger to regret and back again, Leonard decides to leave it all behind.
Due to the science fictional nature of his travel, he’ll be travelling through hyperspeed, experiencing days, while his friends and everyone back home ages years and passes away. He is quite literally leaving it all behind, perhaps in an attempt to run away from it all.
Now if the concept worries you, (“I don’t like sci-fi,” you might say) stick with this album. At the end of the day, like all great science fiction, it’s not really about the spaceship, it’s about how we tackle the pain, emptiness, and loneliness in our lives.
In tracks like “Only Man in the World” and “Out of Time” Leonard tackles the anger all of us experience at loss, shifting blame to others. In “Tower of Babel” he moves on to ask the question, “Why do lovers grow apart, when they want so badly to be one heart?”. As the story progress, Leonard digs into his past, discovers that his wounds from growing up may have some contribution to his situation, and then eventually comes to the point where he can experience his grief.
His anger melts away into regret through the song “We Never Said Goodbye” as he realizes what he lost and how much he misses it, wrapping up in Shooting Star as he contemplates what he’s learned and looks forward to finding out if he can change as he returns to Earth.
My description of the story and a few of the songs doesn’t do this album justice. There are few albums on which I can honestly say I enjoy every song, and this is one. While the tracks are enjoyable on their own, if I start this album from the beginning, I have to finish it. It’s truly a work of art from beginning to end, and I have no problem saying that so far, this is my album of the year.
Andrew Osenga has done something incredible with Leonard the Lonely Astronaut: he’s looked at life with its broken marriages, loss, grief, and anger, and still come out with hope. For additional thoughts (and some song samples) check out Jason Gray’s review at The Rabbit Room, and then pick up a copy when it’s on sale. This is one album that should stick with you for a while.