Fred Thomas had been making music nonstop for years when a seismic shift in his creative process happened in 2013. Something mystical opened up in the fall of that year and the prolific songwriter moved from his already emotionally open style into an unprecedentedly direct and vulnerable lyrical approach as well as new levels of detail-fixated production.
The songs took on a new urgency, inspired by a feeling that life was beginning afresh while at the same time a lifetime of experiences were cementing into worlds of memory. The results of that creatively eruptive time began with 2015’s critically hailed album All Are Saved, continued into the turbulent pop of 2017’s Changer and now float into Aftering, a record that feels like the final chapter of an unofficial trilogy.
More than anything, Aftering calmly sets down the restless questioning and turmoil of the trilogy. Instead of landing on any tidy conclusion or neatly wrapping up a thesis, the album illuminates the themes of observation and acceptance that have run throughout Thomas’ work for the last five years. Aftering reflects on an answerless and uncertain future, trying to make sense of it through scattered memories that flash like mental postcards. A sense of larger, universal dread refracts through these moments of searching. Ultimately, it’s not the dark times or bleakness that lingers, but a sense of connection and hope that comes from trying to communicate them as honestly as possible.