Todd Christoffel Releases New Music

Todd Christoffel’s journey from his Windy City youth mugging during Mass and concocting silly alternative lyrics for the church hymns, through the city’s coffeehouse circuit, before relocating three decades ago to Seattle, Washington, and making his musical home there isn’t your typical tale. Nor are the songs he’s spent over three decades writing. His album A Brief History of Eternity could be heard as the musical equivalent of a memoir. The vast majority of the song’s lyrics aren’t autobiographical “scenes from Christoffel’s life” (though some clearly imply an autobiographical basis), but imaginative works.

The influences making him the songwriter he has become over the years emerge at every turn. The first track “Pure Desire” is a little more vocally daring than many of its successors, but Christoffel’s songwriting artistry keeps a firm handle on its trajectory. Christoffel writes and sings for a band project, as well, Seattle’s Don’t Ask, and enlists the help of its guitarist Chris Faget for many of these songs. His playing during the opener and other songs provides a much-needed dimension for the arrangements.

“Lucy Brown” is one of the album’s first highlights. His songwriting takes off here, in part, because Christoffel is stepping outside of himself and creating something out of whole cloth rather than lyrical navel-gazing. Faget weaves an eloquent melodic web over the top of Christoffel’s rhythm guitar and the track also provides the latter with a forum to stretch his emotional range for listeners. His character study in miniature isn’t something you can pull off easily, but he makes it sound offhand, even casually observed.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/1l5nyS2YMfXj394EDJxc9W

“I Lost an Angel” comes from the same place both musically and vocally. Christoffel doesn’t have a traditionally beautiful voice. Unexpected occurrences like the way the recording gets his vocal, full of color and vulnerable sounding here, are among the defining characteristics setting this album apart from others. “The Truth” is a real stomper, but never mindless. This is a long album, twenty-one tracks in all, and variety is essential if you expect listeners to hang that far. The pace for this track breaks with the preponderance of songs, but it never sounds out of place.

“I Knew You When” keeps the gems coming. It’s not hard to listen to this song and hear a hit begging for a more polished production because every component is in place. Christoffel is giving us one of those tracks that take ten years to live and a few days to write as all of its key lines are informed with a maturity you don’t often find even in the best singer/songwriter fare. It’s further sparked by a poetic instinct invariably on the money. “Just a Little Pill” may initially sound like a throwaway, but it’s a late gem in the album that highlights Christoffel’s skill for creating entertaining arrangements. A Brief History of Eternity is packed with enjoyable, reflective, and always musical songs that cover a wide range of human experiences without ever testing your patience. It’s a win-win for anyone involved. 

Anne Hollister

Anne Hollister

We do music reviews for Independent Artists and Publicists.

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