First Review of the New CD Comes From a PHD in Observational Cosmology!

First CD ReviewI’ve been thrilled with everyone’s comments about the new Slow Sunrise CD, thank you!  I have to admit, there might have even been a little lump in my throat as I began to realize that a lot of you have really connected to some of these songs.   Your responses have been great!  I even received the first song by song review from a good friend… who happens to be a PHD from Brown University in Observational Cosmology and Gravitational Lensing!  This guy not only meticulously pays attention to detail, but he is a music connoisseur with discerning taste.  At first I was a bit nervous to read it knowing that he would be open and honest, but I was pleased to find his questions and comments insightful.  In fact, I thought my answers to his email were worth sharing so I asked him if I could post them here.

Ladies and gentlemen…. responses to my first CD review:

Sol,

I thought I’d write you my quick thoughts while listening to your new album.

Break the Floor
Fun song. I really enjoy the guitar work.. it is so you. Lots of influences coming in in small parts here: Santana, Gilmour, Wylde/Dimebag?

Thanks, man! You nailed it with the influences.  I knew you’d be able to hear the Santana and Wylde in there, but I have a little secret: I added a little Mick Mars from Motley Crue in there too.  You can here it in the trills at the end of the solo.  I was having a hair metal throw back day and got inspired by Mick and decided to see what it would sound like if I mixed some of his tastier licks in there.  I felt like a chef throwing a rare and rogue ingredient in my staple dish.  Glad it turned out!

She Makes Me Reconsider
I really like this one, it has great construction. You know I dig the big emotional tunes, so, probably isn’t a big surprise. I dig the vocals on this one.

Yes!  I connected to this one emotionally right up front.  It was the chord progression that did it for me.  If you listen closely, you’ll notice that I basically keep the same progression throughout the verse and chorus; I just change the melody on top and the rhythm a little.  In fact, this is the only song without a bridge because I just wanted to keep hearing that progression!  There’s something inherently moody but hopeful about it.  That’s why I called it “She Makes Me Reconsider”.  It was the perfect backdrop for that emotion and I really wanted the lyrics to match it.

Way It Is With You
Enjoying your (continued) low register here.. and MAN the chorus is infectious. Shew! This is gonna get stuck in my head like crazy. 😛  The electronic descending line amuses me. I dig the middle 8 (and it strongly reminds me of something.. can’t put my finger on it..).

On this one I wanted to contrast that really “poppy” Duran Duran vibe with something more traditional, so that middle 8 bridge uses an old Latin conga rhythm I learned from my salsa/reggae playing days.  I think it’s called a guaguanco.  On some days, that middle 8 bridge is my favorite moment on the CD; especially with that lyric, “One thing about music…inside of it I feel no pain.”

Latina Lady
Sunny day in California on a beach.. it puts me right there.

Perfect!  This song is meant to have nostalgia all over it!  My dad actually wrote the core of this song over 20 years ago!  

Come to School
HERE is the DM! Totally dig the beat. Still enjoying the lower register in the vocals. The percussive solo SOO makes me think of FNM (Crack Hitler).

Crack Hitler?!?  Lol, I had to look it up!  I can see the connection.  He must be a Jimi Hendrix fan too!  For the percussive guitar solo, I imagined that if Jimi was still around, he might do a guitar solo with only a percussive wah sound and no actual notes! :p   This song is also another example of mixing up different sounds to find a new flavor.  The rhythm is basically a reggaeton beat which is super dancy, but I wanted to add some mystery with a bit of a dark vibe, so naturally the Depeche Mode influence was perfect for that.  Glad that’s what you heard!  If a DM fan like you can hear it, then I definitely accomplished my goal on this one!

Got the Feeling It’s On
Digging the more expressive and sultry feel.  Really enjoying the vocals here. HERE is some Gilmour! Yes, laid back, expressive, great use of silence.. love it! The outro guitar feels of Enigma. This is one of my faves on the album, just hits all the right buttons!

Man, you are good with spotting the influences; this song is all about Enigma meets Gilmour!  I wanted to take what I think are two of the sexiest sounds in music and put them together!  A proud little side note: that guitar solo is a first take temp solo!  From the beginning I always intended to go back and do a “real” solo, but I ended up getting attached to the natural Gilmour vibe in it and decided it already fit perfectly.  Glad you’re enjoying this one.  It’s one of my favorites too.

Talk to my Angel
Really like the construction again.. is a very good song. I love the solo.. expressive and powerful. (Quite Gilmourish with a splash of Slash?, IMO.) But, it is a hard song for me to really review (outside of it being very good), because it just makes me think of Monica and sniffle up. Probably my overall favourite on the album – it is so powerful.

Thanks for your openness about this one.   You might notice that the energy and lyrics on the CD hint at escapism.  When I started writing these songs I had a group of 17 songs to start out with, but many of them were personal and I decided to keep them private.  Among those private song though, this particular one kept tugging at me.  It wouldn’t leave me alone, so I had to develop it further and record it.  In the end, this song has become incredibly important to me because I’m proud of it on many levels.  As a producer, I’m proud of the complex rhythms and arrangement (thanks for the remark on the construction).  As a guitar player, I’m proud of the expressive guitar solo.  As someone who still struggles with sadness after losing my wife, I’m proud that I could open up and expose those emotions lyrically.  My hope is that the roller coaster of emotions in this song might be as therapeutic for others as it has been for me.

All in all, easily your best work. I like this much more so than your previous work (which you accurately predicted. It is very interesting to listen to the tunes I had heard in demo form before.. I liked the demos, and really like the final result. I like the vocals much more this time around.. how much were they changed? I’d be curious what the (major) changelog was like for most of these songs.. I know I don’t recognize some of the guitar work.

Thank you.  That really means a lot coming from you, my friend.  Like a lot of music these days, many people will listen to it as background music, but when true music fans like you can connect with the songs, I am encouraged to keep making music. 🙂

Bravo Bro, you really knocked it out of the park with this one! Are you going to make physical copies of this CD? If so, can I get one?

Of course!  Send me your address.

How is life outside of your major accomplishment here?

Cheers,

Paul

Once again, thank you, Paul, for taking the time to write your review!  You made my day!