Hotel Books - I'll Leave The Light On Just In Case (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hotel Books

I'll Leave The Light On Just In Case (2019)

InVogue records

Let me first give you fair warning, Hotel Books is for lovers of poetry and wordspeak. Emo, in a nutshell, but like I said, folks like me who love acts like La Dispute, mewithoutYou and Troubled Coast, this is always a really dramatic and zeroed in listen. And I'll Leave The Light On Just In Case doesn't disappoint at all in how vocalist Cam Smith waxes on and on about the winding roads life has to offer.

I first got into Cam on the Canadian Softball spoof record a couple years ago thanks to "Cut The Cord" about a dude who was breaking up with Comcast for poor service. I started backtracking his work and ever since I've kept a close eye on what he was doing. And clearly, it was creating art filled with depth, heart and soul. This album isn't really playful but there are light moments that feel like something you'd see in coming of age joints like The Wonder Years. On songs like "There Is" Cam wades into religion and you can feel the hum of his existential breakdown and dare I say, a crisis looming. All obviously drawn from past experiences, but his lyrics work so well as he dances in between haunting, atmospheric and dreamy melodies.

The same applies for "Death Is A Terrifying Thing" and the shimmery "Midway" with background music that allow Cam's voice just enough room to stand tall against beautiful backdrops. Now, I do admit that the music needs some mixing up moving forward because this style does get tedious and it honestly will be tough to get past 20 minutes. But Cam's poetry is so damn powerful, I'm hooked for as long as it takes. But if he does shake things up musically, integrating more electronica, indie or even poppy hooks, he'll do fine. "Just How I Feel Pt. 3" is a prime example of this with a scream element that reminds me of Scotland's Departures and allows Cam as a guest act to shine even more.

All in all, whether it's him ruminating and reconciling about drugs, TV shows, his social outcast behaviour, family or self-deprecation on the whole, trust me, this album is as emo as it is relatable for us all.