From the title alone, Loving on Empty works well to encapsulate Dan Godlin’s struggle to balance his once potential athletic career and his desire to write songs, Godlin’s days as a high school football captain never really fulfilling his creative drive. The dichotomy of aggressive and sensitive yanked at Godlin’s being; which pursuit did he love more? But the call to make music prevailed, and this rusty-haired kid from Boston took the sensitive route, culling the ups and downs of relationships and channeling them into his debut album.

Godlin doesn’t chronicle the struggle of his choice, one that comes during a tenuous time in a teen’s life—yet; he gets the boy-meets-girl-then-they-breakup stuff out of his system first. But it’s a valiant effort, easy to listen to and complete with relatable emotions. Loving on Empty is full of the coming-of-age woes and worries, from a nervous crush (“Did She Look?”), can’t live without you aches (“Elevate Me”), to life after love (“Are You Happy Now?”). Dan Godlin’s scrappy charm elevates his music above the dreary lilt of The Fray and One Republic, instead reminding us of the sunnier finger picking of The Goo Goo Dolls and early John Mayer.

The album’s strengths come when Godlin is at his most earnest. The opener “Did She Look” nails the coffeehouse crush jitters, Godlin’s heart in his throat when he repeats the hook over and over, letting  the listener in on his internal butterflies (plus the ending is super adorable). “10,000 Words” uses clever backing vocals, muffled phone messages slamming a lover’s rehearsed call shtick. “Dance Baby” changes things up with infectious, funky instrumentals and an irresistible call to groove.

Loving on Empty closes with the title track, a proper denouement for the album about a relationship. Slow, building, and simple, “Loving on Empty” is a mature production, placing Godlin on the outside looking in, lyrically speaking, and is sure to be an anthem for the young and brokenhearted (what a killer episode closer it could be for a CW teen show!).

Dan Godlin hits the road this month on the Camplified tour, stopping in Massachusetts on July 18th at Camp Frank A. Day in East Brookfield. Listen to “Did She Look” and check out the “Dance Baby” video below!

DAN GODLIN Did She Look by NewOceanMedia