Once For the Money opens with an invocation. In the words of “Olalla,” Sensation Junkies’ frontman Christopher Blue is searching for “something to believe in,” and “that supernatural feeling.” And, even though a road trip is never mentioned in the lyrics of this first track, it has that feeling of a song that starts your journey to find yourself in America, or America in yourself. I’m a sucker for shit like that, so I’m going to impose the road trip metaphor on Once for the Money.
On the trip, Blue experiences love, loses or destroys love, confronts the ugliness in himself, then rediscovers love as something bigger (see tracks ”Love is the Reason and “Trpid” for two very pretty universal love epiphanies) and reemerges to reflect on his choices and turn his thoughts outward.
If it had been rendered by a sad-eyed singer-songwriter with a guitar, and sensitive-boy-with-a-story-to-tell production, such a plot could have sunk the record. But Blue tells his stories with often self-critical skill, while the rest of the Junkies back him up with fluent musicianship: these guys know what they’re doing. The result is a delicate balance of straightforward, sometimes hopeful, sometimes scathing songs that make you think without making you look for hidden meanings, and musical arrangements that are supple enough to become part of each song’s story.
Even if you don’t choose to accept the imposition of road trip metaphor, Once for the Money is worth checking out for the experience – however you choose to receive it.