This is essentially the story of four male friends, Henry (Hank), Lee, Kip and Ronny who all grew up in small town Wisconsin. They have made their own ways in life with differing degrees of success; depending on how one actually quantifies `success'. Lee has become a famous musician whose debut album gives us the title of this book. Ronnie became a rodeo star with a drink problem, Kip went off to the big city to make money trading stocks and Hank stayed at home and married his child hood sweetheart to work the farm and raise a family.
Kip comes back to get married and breathe life into the old mill which dominates the skyline and has stood derelict for many years. What starts out well soon unravels as the paparazzi turn up to see Lee in his hometown. That then acts as a catalyst for change for all the erstwhile friends; and as loyalties are tested and pasts are revisited so do the skeletons come tumbling out of the closet.
The story is told in episodic fashion with each chapter being told by a different character. In this way more of the real people are revealed each time and the misunderstandings that spawn friction are given an airing with a differing perspective to add reason to what is often questionable behaviour.
Nickolas Butler has woven a tale that gently unfolds but it still has enough immediacy to keep you turning the pages. The music seems to be in the prose too - it actually reminded me of Okkervil Rivers latest album (`The Silver Gymnasium') where Will Sheff has gone back to his hometown to revisit childhood memories. There is a lot of nostalgia here and `what `if' scenarios but all of the characters are allowed the space to grow and breathe and it is hard not to empathise with most of them. I really enjoyed this book and am not surprised that Fox Searchlight have bought the film rights, it is crying out to be made into a film and if it is half as good as the book it will still be a pleasure to see.