By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
Shoutout to David Kushner and the wonderful team at 1824º for sending me this awesome record. I hope I do it justice!
The first time I heard David Kushner’s music was in the middle of Nowhere, South Carolina as I was driving from Asheville to Gainesville. The air was crisp; the rolling hills were beautiful compared to the flatly paved South Florida; the wind was whipping softly through my car as my windows were gradually rolled down…and of course, David Kushner’s voice was softly soundtracking this incredible moment of peace.
Chicago/Florida singer-songwriter David Kushner was a relatively new name on my radar, but upon listening to the highly-anticipated Footprints I Found, I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan. Kushner’s songwriting and storytelling are as intimate as a candlelit dinner, but his vocals and minimal production choices are haunting. This EP perfectly captures the spirit of the Fall season: a change from warm sunshine to cold breezes, a time for introspection and reflection, a time to remember friends and family. I’ve wanted to talk about why this batch of tracks is so good for a while, so let’s dive into why it’s so great!
The first thing that hits you upon listening to this EP is its feel; I rarely consider aesthetic to be a defining factor of a project, but God this EP nails it. Opener “Cigarettes” is a perfect balance of rustic guitar strums, enchanting vocal layering, and subtle touches of piano. It feels like a song you’d play as you watch the leaves turn orange in real time. The EP is beautiful in its rawness, opting to forgo a pop polish for a more stripped-back feel. A good example of this is “Burn,” which feels like a campfire anthem with friends during a cold night. Small touches in the mix make the album feel tangible: waves crash on the intro of “Cannon Beach,” the subtle tones in the background of “Look Back & Laugh” enhance the song’s combination of nostalgia and pain. Kushner’s vocals are just as effective at giving you the feels, especially on “Mr. Forgettable” where his understated delivery on the verses conveys the pain of lost memory. Footprints I Found thrives on this balance of sonic bliss and anguish, bringing them together in a way that makes each track blossom. If you throw it on during a drive in the mountains, I guarantee it will perfectly match those lonesome, nature-filled vibes.
Of course, the main star of this EP is Mr. Kushner himself. After having gone viral on TikTok, I think he deserves a seat at the table of voices to watch in the singer-songwriter scene. I mentioned earlier that I think this album captures the cold feel of Fall perfectly, and the reason for that is Kushner’s songwriting and lyrical choices. “Cigarettes” feels like a perfect introduction to his pen, a track that bottles the feelings of heartbreak you can feel when a loved one isn’t sitting next to you at the Thanksgiving table. In that same vein, “oooWooo” is a refreshing breakup song, one that focuses less on being toxic and more on being honest. “Mr. Forgettable” feels like the first night of snow in the season, especially with its heartbreaking story of a grandfather with Alzheimer’s. It’s a fantastic song, one that makes me think about the passage of time within my own family and reminds me to appreciate them every second I can.
Despite the dark subject matter Kushner captures, I think he captures the joy of the season on a few joints here. “Burn” is an anthem for moving on from bad times in your life. Nothing screams Fall more than reuniting with family after struggling on your own, and this song is the soundtrack to that embrace. “Cannon Beach” is similar in its positivity, a song that inspired me to take more risks during this semester instead of doing same old, same old. “Miserable Man” is a beautiful ballad, one that is incredibly mature in its depiction of a breakup that lets a struggling relationship transform into a thriving one later on. This song seems to embody the message of the EP overall to me: there may be hard times down the line, but hope exists as long as you trust in yourself and keep moving forward.
So overall? I think this EP is incredible. David Kushner has delivered, what I feel anyway, a perfect EP to play during this Fall season. Aesthetically, it’s an intimate night with a loved one in front of a fire. Lyrically, it’s an exploration into relationships and how one internalizes their highs and lows. Footprints I Found is the total package, and I think it deserves a place in your Fall playlist…
Which brings me to our official Fall playlist! Here, you’ll find a nice mix of everything that is perfect for the season: recent releases, smooth jazz rap, classic R&B, some punk and emo throwbacks, and of course some David Kushner. We hope you enjoy this EP and this playlist like we have!