Escape Artist: Lytle runs away from home on Yours Truly, The Commuter.

Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Three out of the four studio albums that singer-songwriter Jason Lytle released with Granddaddy—a band for which he wrote, performed, and recorded almost all of the music—end with a song about escape. “Rise high today/Fly away/Far away/Far from pain,” sang Lytle on the closing track of 2000’s The Sophtware Slump. But an escape from where? Most likely Modesto, Calif., Lytle’s hometown, which served as inspiration for most of his songs. And if Grandaddy’s music is any evidence, there were plenty of reasons to hightail it out of there. Here was a place where men were not men but mere microserfs longing to transcend the confines of their office cubicles and commune with nature—a place where once-beloved robots drank themselves to death. By 2006, Grandaddy’s tech-bubble of popularity had burst, leaving Lytle to face a bunch of broke fellow musicians and a substance-abuse problem. Escape was no longer just something Lytle wanted to sing about, it was something he wanted to do. So, he broke up the band and moved to Montana. Now Lytle has delivered his first solo album, Yours Truly, the Commuter, and even though the music doesn’t stray far from his usual formula—melancholy pop augmented with vintage synthesizer flourishes—the lyrics, at least, suggest that the change of location has been good for him. “Last thing I heard I was left for dead/But I could give two shits about what they said/I may be limping, but I’m coming home,” sings Lytle on the album’s optimistic title track. There’s still a lot of heartbreak here, though. Lytle talks to his dead dogs, mourns his departed lovers, and gets nostalgic about the things he left behind in Modesto. But there’s hope, tentative though it may be, and upon hearing life-affirming tracks “Birds Encouraged Him” and “You’re Too Gone,” one gets the sense that Lytle knows the worst times are behind him. Yours Truly’s best track, “Brand New Sun,” is a song about flight from trouble. “So you should hold my hand/While everything blows away/And we’ll run to a brand new sun,” sings Lytle over a soaring chorus of keyboards. But it’s not until the album closer, “Here for Good,” that it seems Lytle has finally found a little bit of peace.