Sixteen-year-old Indianan SSW loner piano man Todd (Wathen) has a heart bigger than a chest can hold. 1979’s With Love… From Me to You, originally issued in a short private-press run of 100 copies, is ‘Real People’ gold broadcasting an earnest, heartfelt set of tunes of loneliness, feelings of doubt, and the darker side of a teenage existence.
Aided by sympathetic classmates on a low-budget trip, this set of fully self-penned tunes oozes with charm, and if given a deep listening serves a spiritually soothing slice of unfiltered humanity. Many rumors surround this obscure private, but when the joys come this wide-frame, that’s all by the wayside—though some may not easily warm to his one-note nasally voice (in the realm of cult hero Dean Friedman, but with less light and shade). Throughout the album a minor mistake—a bum bass note here, or a popped ‘p’ there—doesn’t quell the forward motion supplied by rudimentary funky drums, gently picked acoustic guitar, angelic femme backup vox, and low-level electronic noise amid tempo changes, which all serve as seasoning to the main affair of Todd and his keys. From the longing modes of “Love Lost” (with distant, echoing oscillations), and “Can’t Get Her Out of My Mind,” to the harrowing hopelessness of suicide in “Before It’s Too Late,” the hopeful, vocally-echoed and soft rock guitar modes of “Christ’s Love Song,” and the infectious, jubilant instrumental, “Miracle Whip,” we’re provided a snapshot of teenage estrangement (a feeling everyone can relate to).
Neck and neck with Rick Grossman’s Hot Romance in the white fro and fractured soul sweepstakes of the private-press, the cover invites you into a sonic realm akin to the mellow modes of Gilbert O’Sullivan, with light shades of Twilight Nuages’ piano-led moments, while still standing as something wholly its own. A well-placed piano note and soul deep searching, even with its moments of darkness, can be an uplifting experience. With Love… From Me to You is a slab that has been on constant rotation for me, and is highly recommended to those with an adventurous ear.