Paul Renna / Blog

Mass Movement Magazine Review!

On his third full-length release, Paul Renna seems to have broken through to a new plane of existence, exploring the deepest recesses of his heart and soul both lyrically and musically. ‘Brothers And Sisters’ – produced by Omar Vallejo, and featuring Jason Seiter on keyboards, Doug Koeppe on bass, and Brandon Elizondo on drums, along with a few friends to add color here and there – is a complex, mature record that deserves to be experienced as a whole rather than in single pieces. ‘Opening My Heart’ reveals a frightening level of honesty to a new love with a narrative boldness that is perfectly encapsulated by a simmering swirl of guitars and keys that explodes into an emotionally charged, soulful climax that sets the mood for the album as a whole. The follow-up track, ‘A Star Is Forever’ is built around a slinky, sexy bass-line and a jazzy keyboard riff that recalls the best parts of the decadent 70s, with Renna’s smoky, bluesy vocals carrying things forward with class and style. ‘In My Head’ melds the blues magic of Free to the freaky funk gospel of Sly & The Family Stone, with a kick-drum led breakdown that is felt more than heard. The title track showcases Renna’s ability to take on The Black Crowes head-to-head, showing them how to take a happy, bluesy sing-along straight to the heart of his listeners without meandering away somewhere in the middle third. If one track here stands out above the others, it is ‘Fly’, a true ballad with lyrics that manage to be infinitely sad and almost impossibly hopeful at the same time, without ever seeming overwrought or overdone, beautifully sung over a softly strummed acoustic guitar accented by a simple drum beat, playful keys, and an expertly executed vocal arrangement. Two back-to-back tracks, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘I Want To Go’, seem possibly inspired individually by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; the former reveals a plan for redemption over a menacing bass-line and a melody tinged with darkness, while the latter seems to propel the plan to its next stage in a blinding burst of sunshine. This duality continues on ‘Gone’, a tale of loss that allows the listener to revel in the art of being alone, and on ‘Roller Coaster’, which is built on a somber, repetitive riff that explodes into a power-pop chorus that rivals the likes of Cheap Trick or Matthew Sweet. The album closes with ‘Breaking Down’, a hauntingly somber ballad that seems to express Renna’s views on love better than any other song, stripping his feelings down to their barest essence amidst a sea of music that echoes The Beatles’ final recordings both in tone and in mood. ‘Brothers And Sisters’ is the sound of an artist coming into his own, finding his voice, and baring his soul. Music doesn’t get more magical than this. Timothy Schwader