For the last eight years or so, Tedo Stone has been creating a presence in a strong and vibrant Athens, Georgia music scene. It's been a prolific near-decade that's witnessed Stone releasing 2012's Happy EP, 2013's Good Go Bad, 2015's Marshes, and 2018's Summer Sun to increasing acclaim as Stone has grown as an artist.
That makes Same Old Kid Stone's fourth full-length, and it's full of the disarmingly charming, straightforward indie pop/rock that Stone's spent those years perfecting. Stone often gets compared to Marc Bolan & T. Rex, and there's certainly a cheeky, psychedelic quality to some of his work (especially on some glammy cuts you find on early albums like Good Go Bad). But to these ears, the T. Rex comparison seems most fitting -- at least these days -- when you consider how Stone seems to just settle into a song's groove. Even though Same Old Kid's longest song clocks in at only 3:33, there's never a sense that Stone rushes through his songs. Even on more uptempo numbers like "Shoot the Messenger" or "Town After Town", it just feels like the songs flow along to their logical end. These sound like the songs of an artist comfortable in his own skin.
Stone comes out of the gate in fine form with "Swann Song", which opens with distant-sounding vocals and organ before giving way to blasts of guitar and an impassioned chorus as Stone attempts to slow down the passage of time by basking in good memories with his wife. That leads nicely into the jaunty piano figure and shuffling pace of the title track as Stone sings of traveling the streets of his youth, claiming he's the same kid he's always been.
That sense of contented taking of one's stock permeates Same Old Kid, especially on the lovely "Wunderkind", which Stone wrote about watching his three toddlers discover their way through each day. Featuring Andrea Demarcus of Cicada Rhythm on background vocals, "Wunderkind" is a gorgeous showcase for where Stone finds himself now, both in life and with his music. It's apparently a good place. As he sings on the raucous, joyous closer "Town After Town", he's past the road-weary uncertainty and misadventures of earlier years: "We don't think about it now ... I hope this safety line will hold".
Stone says of Same Old Kid, "I found myself feeling super nostalgic after having kids. After having time to digest it, I realized that theme ran through all the songs that would end up being Same Old Kid". Even without that backstory, you can sense the maturity in these songs, especially if you're familiar with earlier albums where Stone might have been struggling to lock down what he wanted his sound to be. This is easily Stone's most cohesive record to date, both in terms of sound (courtesy of great, sympathetic production by Matt Martin, Drew Vandenberg, and co-writer Drew Beskin) and subject matter. Not to mention how well Stone and his bandmates (Beskin, Jeremy Wheatley, and Philip Brantley) gel to create a consistent vibe whether they're providing an acoustic ballad or a riff-heavy guitar storm.
Same Old Kid is an album steeped in nostalgia, sure, but it's not the nostalgia of someone pining for better times. Same Old Kid carries the feathery weight of the kind of nostalgia you feel when you like where you are when those memories are well-laid bricks in the foundation of what you've built.