It is common Musicians of A Certain Age - particularly when they're tipping their hats to the past rather than flipping it the bird - to be lumped under the label 'Adult Contemporary', where they can languish, presumably waiting for Listeners of A Certain Age to buy their albums. Certainly Marc Teamaker's new album, the eponymous Marc Teamaker, offers mature insight captured in expertly crafted songs, but there is also a boyish joy that runs through it. Boyish growth spurts, too. 'I'm always coming of age,' Teamaker says, and it sums up his take on the eternal theme of a man spending a lifetime trying to get it right. It helps that Teamaker's voice doesn't age. It's youthful timbre is the key to his accessibility, like an older brother or friend letting you sit in his bedroom and flip through his old LPs while he sits on the bed with his guitar and sings. The joyful anthem, 'Sunday's Coming On' kick-starts the album. It leads into the smooth 'Montreal', whose eloquent flute and rich percussion add enough class to make The Style Council feel right at home. Just as TSC's songs often paired love with images of wet Parisian sidewalks or the tops of London buses, this song is also about being in love in a place you love, and perfectly evokes the feeling of a cosmic soundtrack playing as the two of you make that place your own. It is Teamaker's ode to moodiness, 'Weathervane', that begins the journey inward. Teamaker has said that he is unsure of himself singing the slower songs, but in what is one of my favourite tracks this is unnoticeable, as it is on the superb 'As For The Time'. Time is nipping at Teamaker's heels and making him question what went before - those growth spurts again - and he carries this thread in the swirling 'Soul Burst' and the following track, 'Whatever Happens' which begins as an afterthought with a ticking-clock guitar, and goes on to speak of shiny façades that bear no relation to the self-doubt beneath ('Whatever happens, I'm dressed to fail'). This echoing of the lyrics in the melody is something that reoccurs throughout the album, notably on one of the album's highlights, 'Vacant Footsteps', whose limping rhythm carries the theme of always falling short with the surest of strides. Teamaker does more than look inwards and outwards. He also looks beside him, and the result, 'Hold Me' is dedicated to fellow life travelers experiencing loss and grief. It's message of hope, delivered with emotive strings, is touching but not maudlin. If this all sounds too grownup to be any fun, rest assured that Teamaker knows how to do thoughtful without getting precious or depressing. Dark literary allusion could be too impenetrable, but the saucy guitar and Latin rhythm on 'Dorian' makes it a spicy treat. The Latin feel continues on 'Where Your Luck Lands', and on 'Shade of Trees', where Teamaker mourns the loss of slow days for the mad chase of The Dream, you almost expect The Family Stone to boogie in and get down and dirty with him. He even dispenses with introspection to salute his cocksure youth in the very mellow 'Jelly Jar #2'. But it is the last song, the soulful 'Change', that is his greatest departure, both lyrically and vocally. Delivered with an uncompromising snarl, the message is to get up, get a grip, and get real ('Don't have to take it out on me/ 'Cause you haven't had your coffee or your day in the sun'). It's a fitting end to the album. 'Change is the only way', Teamaker declares, and in embracing change he also embraces us. - Violeta Balhas - Freelance writer and novelist Marc Teamaker also co-fronts a group called The Badge. Check them out.