REVIEW: Tod Lippy — Yearbook (LP)

For a second, I’m gonna ask you to close your eyes and think back to high school. Stop cringing, we’re all doing this together. Those bland lunches, the people kissing way too much in the hallways, the locker code you could never quite memorize. Specifically, recall your high school yearbook. What superlative was tossed your way? Biggest flirt? Most likely to succeed? Class clown? The broad strokes the yearbook would take to “define” kids too young to vote was a fun exercise but looking back on the categorical angle of it all can feel a little… weird. More and more the further you get from your graduation date, too.


Tod Lippy feels a little weird about all of it. The superlative-thinking, the boxed-in mindset, the overall approach to the concept of knowing someone without ever, y’know, knowing someone. All of this is kept at the forefront of Lippy’s brain as he proceeds across the ten-track span of his latest release, Yearbook. In his 50s, there’s no talk of acne or prom but… high school never truly ends.

The ten songs that comprise Yearbook offer a great deal of variety, from songs that feel like a send-up to 80s new-wave (the production in album-opener “Ambitions” taps into this the most, but “Using You” offers similar energy) to songs that take the term piano ballad to a new level, in “Appian Way” and “Entente.” The standout for the project comes in the upbeat, cheery “Names,” which serves as the general core of the entire album in a lot of ways. The main theme of how someone is perceived is brought into question and hits home a lot of the nuances made in the first half of the album — the second half uses the context of “Names” to flesh out Lippy’s focus on the person as more than an identity, and it greatly benefits from the song’s placement more than any other track on Yearbook.

There’s a selfless approach to each song and the album feels like a personal letter hand-addressed from Tod Lippy to his listeners, as the overall ambition isn’t something lost from the songs; making something for everyone as a way to make it for a single someone, in particular, is a notion not lost on the audience, and ultimately it feels like Lippy is inviting everyone to a listening party that was initially intended for him and him alone.

An approach this personal in regards to making music feels so foreign in contemporary music, and Lippy’s method coming from someone who has worked as a journalist, editor, and filmmaker among countless other artistic endeavors further paints the picture of a man set on changing the traditional way that music can be distributed or achieved.

The original songwriter is a hot commodity and Tod Lippy is focused on bringing his spin on the concept of what a non-traditional musician can accomplish when given the skills and tools to tinker about in his own unique way. Yearbook as a project is far from simply tinkering, as each song grows into the next without missing a beat, and there’s no saying where Lippy goes next. Music is just the tip of his iceberg.

Colin Jordan