The Death of an Optimist: Album and Movie Review

Written by on December 21, 2022

Two years ago I wrote this article. Two years later, my work will see the light of day. This is The Death of an Optimist: Album and Movie Review.

By Emily McCormack

Since he started his musical career in 2014, alternative singer and activist grandson finally released his debut album, “Death Of An Optimist” on December 4, 2020. While fans have enjoyed his previous singles and EPs, including his trilogy, “A Modern Tragedy,” DOAO has long been anticipated.

What fans didn’t expect was his announcement on the night of the album release. On social media, grandson introduced fans to “Death Of An Optimist: The Movie,” a film about the making of his album, set to premiere on December 17, 2020 via

Matching the aesthetic of everything DOAO, this black and white documentary film was a balance of never before seen performances, behind the scenes footage, and explanations of the tracks and music videos. 

As someone who is an active concert goer, the shutdown of live performances has been greatly disappointing. I have so much appreciation for artists who are finding their way to perform for their fans in new and creative ways. grandson’s film was such an enjoyable way for me and the other “grandkids” (his fanbase) to learn more about the production of his powerful debut album. Supporting one of my favorite artists during a year of cancelled tours and lack of live entertainment, allowed me to feel as if I’m somehow helping to fill the void. 

I particularly enjoyed how the film was split into three chapters. The first one covered the first five songs on the album, including the first single, “Identity.” grandson explained how these songs reflect his inner thoughts about himself, and touches upon his fears about failing at his career and corruption within government. My favorite track from this section is “Dirty,” which happens to correspond with my pick for favorite music video (thus far). This is a powerful song about standing up for what you believe in, and actually taking action to get things done. This became an anthem for many going into the 2020 Presidential Election, where grandson motivated listeners to use their voices and participate in the election. 

The second chapter of DOAO begins with a symbolic wooden coffin with grandson’s logo, where he sings the middle track, “The Ballad of G and X // Interlude.” In this song, grandson puts a name to who he refers to as “they” when speaking out against corruption and injustice in America. This is where we start to understand why it’s so hard for someone to remain an optimist in the world we live in today. One of the most important lines in this song is the following: “I try to do my part, I vote, I sign all the petitions/ He tells me that there ain’t no way I’ma make a difference.” This is a clear separation of grandson’s somewhat optimistic feelings in the first half of the album, versus the corrupted perspective of the next few tracks. 

Some of my favorite songs from this record that I think go the hardest are from the second half, including “We Did It!!!,” a song from the perspective of a corrupt politician, and “WWIII,” which features the most epic drop on the whole album.

I particularly enjoyed grandson’s behind the scenes for the single “Riptide” and its corresponding music video. I found the finished product so beautifully put together, that seeing footage of how it was made provided insight into the hard work that went into making the finished video. 

grandson is one of my absolute favorite artists, and having an inside look into his first, official album was such an amazing experience, even if I was sitting in my living room to watch it. I felt his radiant energy through the screen, and cannot wait until I can jump up and down to these new tracks in a room full of passionate concert lovers again one day.


2022 Notes:

As of a few months ago, the movie is now available via YouTube in three parts! I’m so excited that others get to watch the video that had captivated me in 2020… oh boy, what a year that was. Though grandson hasn’t released an album since this debut, he has released several songs in collaboration with other artists that I love playing on our station!

I had the privilege of seeing him perform in March 2022, not once, but twice- and with a photo pass thanks to the Founder/CEO of Indie Band Guru, Keith Profeta. I cried the day I found out I got tickets, on my way to the shows, during the show, and leaving the shows. grandson has mde that much of an impact on my life, and That weekend I saw him is one I will never forget, and can only hope I can ever re-live (So I think it’s safe to assume that my 2020 claim of him being one of my favorite artists still holds up).