Strange and Beautiful (Red Ink/Columbia)

Wrabel’s Words Are All for Aqualung: L.A.-based singer/songwriter Wrabel told us about his love for an Aqualung gem.

Wrabel: There are so many timeless, forever albums that have changed both music and the world, but for me there is only one that truly changed my life — Aqualung’s 2005 album Strange and Beautiful.

I first heard this album in the parking lot of a Barnes and Noble bookshop in Houston, Texas. I was just about to turn 16, and I was driving with my friend and her mom was in the passenger seat since I only had my permit. Even typing this now I remember it so vividly. We’d been in the shop getting a few books and I walked through the CD section and it caught my eye. I’d never heard of Aqualung to be honest, I bought it because I liked the cover — ha! It’s of Matt Hales (Aqualung) sitting pensively on a beach with water and hills and a beautiful sky surrounding him.

(Red Ink/Columbia)

When the first few chords of “Strange & Beautiful” (the opening song) came on, I was instantly mesmerized. Just something about it. It stopped me. I hadn’t really been very music prior to, but this filled my head and my heart with thoughts and feelings that maybe music was for me.

As the tracks went on, I dove deeper into that inspiring feeling. goosebumps. Track 10 — “Easier to Lie” is still to this day tied (with Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work”) as the most important song to me. I was in the closet. A place I’d stay for years after hearing this song. but something about it just made me feel so understood. I know he’s not singing about being in the closet (ha), but it just hit me in my gut. “To bear the weight and push into the sky, it’s easier to lie, easier to lie. And honestly, to look you in the eye, it’s easier to lie, easier to lie.”

The way he captures sadness and longing really got me too. Songs like “Breaking my Heart” and “Falling out of Love”. “Tongue Tied” seemed to be exactly what I was feeling as well.

This album was the first body of work that made me feel understood. That magical mystical power that music has. Like maybe I’m not alone. Like maybe I’ll be ok. It was such a beautiful feeling. And the album made me want to create.

I feel so lucky to now call Matt (Aqualung) a friend and collaborator. And i’ve been able to share with him how much he and his work has impacted my life and work. I can’t say that I ever would have written a single song without this record.

Wrabel’s Words Are All for Aqualung: The These Words Are All for You album is released September 24 via Big Gay Records/Nettwerk. Wrabel performs at 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 23 at the Regent Theater.

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