February has long been a solemn month. Cold and dreary skies all too often quell the hopes of an early spring, leaving one to ponder the bitterness of the world and the errs of years past. Weatherworn and growing desolate, Paul Otteson set out to fill the void of these lifeless days; with song. The outcome captured the morals of a forgotten time through stories of murder, lost love, weakness, and regret. February Fables uncovers the beautiful struggles we all come to face, and the hope that can be found in tales of old. Inspired by a challenge called “FAWM”, Paul dedicated himself to songwriting during the month of February. For two years he reimagined the fables of Aesop and established what would be his debut album. Writing an average of one song every other day forces a musician to push past monotony and explore new territories. There is no doubt that this contributed immensely to his growth as a songwriter, and expanded his aural pallet. Though considered a folk album, February Fables dabbles in alt-country, indie-rock, and experimental-ballads that create a sound all their own.
The album features a variety of Wisconsin musicians, including; Luke Bassuener of Control and Asumaya on drums, Tom McCarty of The Midwesterners on bass, Shawn Drake of The Love Badgers on violin, and songwriter Jeremiah Nelson on electric guitar. Many of the songs on February Fables took on a new form given the creative brilliance of the group and their vast musical backgrounds. Melodies once thought destined for a solo guitar were reinvented by Bassuener’s driving rhythms and McCarty’s thoughtful foundation. Jeremiah Nelson’s signature guitar is felt throughout the album in layered waves and jazz voicings that create moments of beauty and sonic wonder, well matched by Drake’s virtuosic splendor on the violin. The result is a group dynamic filled with spontaneity and well-developed arrangements. At the heart of February Fables is Paul Otteson’s emotive story telling. Phrases blend together his fragile falsetto and earnest baritone with careful harmonies, bringing poetic verse to life. Each song finds its place in the timeline of a young man’s failures and fortunes. Struggling to learn from the mistakes of his past, he confides in a simple hope; that at the end of the day the moral will be revealed.