An earnest look into Fitzsimmons’ life
When it comes to thematic fidelity, William Fitzsimmons’ 2021 album Ready the Astronaut is a complicated and moody album. In the album, Fitzsimmons reaches both inward and outward for inspiration–drawing on deeply personal experiences with loss, growth and faith. Though some of the mythological motifs are a bit on the nose in tracks like “Daedalus, My Father” and “Icarus,” the songwriter juxtaposes these myths creatively with introspective honesty and some thoughtful turns of phrase.
The first track on the album called “Dancing on the Sun” introduces listeners to Fitzsimmons’ crooning, whispery vocals against a straightforward, though sufficiently energetic ballad. The echoing overlaid guitars and sawing bassline add some flair to the song. Lyrically, the content of the song is a bit generic–allusions to “sparrows,” seedlings” and the “million stars” in a lover’s eyes. The song has a breezy sway like many contemporary Christian devotional songs and seems to be a dubious choice for the first track on the album.
On “No Promises,” Fitzsimmons breaks into some more complicated themes, tackling the grief of tenuous relationships and the pain of broken promises. Against a deep, contemplative drum beat with low toms and hand drums, Fitzsimmons croons “Love is infinite/Pretty flowers and diamond rings.” The lyric shows the author’s self-consciousness about his writing, and his introspection continues with notions of impermanence, desperation, and “Googling lawyers on your lunch break.” After techy feedback effects and ethereal choral voices, the song ends with the lyrics “No, no, no.”
“Down with Another One” features the album’s signature warbling bass, dueling synth arpeggios and moody guitar effects. The pocketed, locked-down drum loop is a bit contrived and pushes the track again into contemporary worship song territory. A clearly plucked acoustic guitar dominates “Daedalus, My Father” and shows that Fitzsimmons is clearly more comfortable with a stripped-down aesthetic. It is a heartfelt and devotional song, incorporating themes of loneliness, loss and separation.
The title track on the album called “Ready The Astronaut” features some deeply reflective lyrics, as well as some prosaic lead guitar riffs, tempered drums, and intense synthesizer in the breakdown section. After explaining that he “was a lonely kid/heavy and unprepared/bullied and beaten down,” Fitzsimmons intones “Ready the astronaut/I’m never coming home.” The song takes a redemptive tone which, especially given the album’s clear Christian themes, seems appropriate for the album’s apotheosis.
Many of the remaining songs on the album, like “Maybe She Will Change Her Mind” and “Icarus” iterate similar vibes: slow, open trancey jams with an occasional clap replacing the snare drum. They show that the album is very closely and thoughtfully produced, and aiming for the indie pop charts.
The final track on the album called “To Love Forever” includes a contemplative backing track featuring orchestral strings. It speaks directly to the lover who seems to be a constant source of pain and inspiration for the album with lyrics like “I hope you can forgive me” and “We tried to love forever.” While Fitzsimmons certainly looks to a melancholy and messy future with the song, its lyrical simplicity galvanizes the album’s self-conscious attitude.
William Fitzsimmons’ 2021 album Ready The Astronaut is made as much from sentimentality as it is from earnest songwriting. While some listeners may be satisfied with Fitzsimmon’s capability in expressing honest feelings about an intensely personal journey, others may feel the album’s adherence to musical pop conventions lacks ingenuity.