“Velvet Leaves”, nurtures this theme with a jazz pop rhythm over a hazy tale of losing a loved one. I admit, I do not delve deep into lyrics on my first couple of listens through an album. But once I pulled up the track list and lyrics, I was even more amazed at how well he straddles the line between elementary and indecipherable in terms of simplicity. While he gets his heart onto the page, he leaves room for you to feel as you might like to feel, again making him one of the most relatable voices I’ve listened to. “Snowflower”, a concept track that harkens of modern Kanye West, shows us versatility before sliding into the bedroom ballad, “Already Falling.”
Then, with “Sheets”, he uses the film score track “Phone Call” from the 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to show you exactly what feeling he embodies. In the movie, a couple tries to latch on to the memories they made after electing to undergo a memory erasing procedure to forget each other after breaking up. Romance and despair coalesce in that movie in a way Puma Blue perfectly follows. Faster tracks like “Oil Slick” offer an iridescent change before doubling down on effervescence with “Silk Print” and “Is It Because.”
“Opiate”, “Sleeping”, and “Bath House”, while not songs I’d readily think to play, are still substantial enough to maintain that this album can be played from beginning to end without disappointing. “Super Soft” caps off In Praise of Shadows with a glimmering acoustic arrangement. Written with and for his friend after a heavy conversation, the meditative thinking theme is a curative track for an anxious mind, making this album perfect for a reflective evening alone, a sunset drive, or to act as a mental landmark for a gorgeous nightcap.