Sean Patrick's Under Sunny Skies EP Review:
This EP is quite strong. It is only marred by a couple of somewhat minor issues. For one thing, at times the production seems to be reaching a bit too hard for a modern audience. That’s heard in some vague elements of some of the vocal production. Beyond that, though, a little bit of awkwardness at times in the closing cut, this is nearly flawless set.
The musical modes that open the album on “Looking to Fall” are classic and accessible and just plain fun. There’s more of a 1970s pop rock vibe in place, but the vocals at times feel a bit more modern in terms of processing. The vocal hooks are quite strong.
The musical elements on “539” are similarly classic rock inspired. The organ sounds in particular are both retro and tasty. The vocals, though, bring almost a modern country feeling to this. It’s more of a ballad in terms of construction and scope. It’s a cool tune that’s both more retro and more modern at the same time. The guitar solo is quite tasteful and classic. It has a bluesy country kind of sound to it.
As “Calling Brian Wilson” starts, the motif is much more modern. In fact, this has almost a modern progressive pop feeling to it. As one might guess from the title, though, there are some Beach Boys references musically later. Those come partially through instrumentation and partly through the vocals. There are also some hints of Cheap Trick in the mix here at times, too. While this is less instantly accessible than the first two pieces, it’s quite a competent tune that actually grows on the listener with repeated spins.
“Time or the Hour” is another cut that’s more or less a ballad. The thing is, the progressive rock leanings that have shown up here and there seem really to come home to roost here. While it’s mostly a modern prog sound, there are some definite retro flavors. The tasty guitar soloing is one of those. The retro keyboard sound is another. This is arguably the best track here. The lyrical content is more mature and the song composition itself is also more advanced. This one is worth the price of admission all by itself.
“Apart of Your World” has a definite reggae vibe to the rhythm section. There is a horn section on this that’s used to good effect. The guitar tone almost sounds like some of the more recent work from Santana. This is a catchy tune that’s another nice change from the music that preceded it. It’s one of the highlights, too.
“You Alone” has more of that classic rock meets modern pop vibe . If there’s a clunker here (and that’s questionable), it’s this one. There are just a couple spots where it feels a bit awkward. Still, there are enough effective moments to make up for any shortcoming. A saxophone solo later lends a bit of a jazz air to the piece, too. The closing section is quite jazz oriented.
Overall, this is a very strong release. It is sure to leave listeners wishing there were more songs here. Yes, the production feels just a little trendy. The songwriting and performances, though, reach way beyond that. The music and influences here really have a classic quality. This is extremely accessible music that is sure to appeal to a wide audience. Overall, it’s the kind of music that seems to grow with each additional spin. Expect great things in the future from Patrick because this set shows a lot of promise. While waiting for those future moments, enjoy this one. It’s highly recommended.
Artist: Sean Patrick Title: Under Sunny Skies Review by G. W. Hill Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Artist: Sean Patrick Album: In the Midst of the Raging Storm Review by Bryan Rodgers
New Jersey guitarist and songwriter Sean Patrick gleefully tests the patience of listeners from the first moment of his “mini pop opera,” In the Midst of the Raging Storm. The album’s storyline is a reflection of Patrick’s approach to the music, which is indulgent and intensely personal. The introduction is the title track, and it’s well into the realm of overblown rock opera. An effect-laden voice drones on about faith and contemplation while pianos and synthesized choruses drift between electronic windstorms.
Those who endure the introduction and dig into the album will be surprised by the amounts of fine ideas that materialize throughout. The sound is driven by pop hooks, like the wistful chorus of “You,” in which the story’s main character wrestles with relentless thoughts. The sharp choruses are punctuated with moments of bedroom prog-rock, just the kind of stuff that one would expect a rock-worshipping musician like Patrick to create when given such freedom. Reggae-scented rhythms wind around a terse guitar riff while Patrick’s big 80’s-rock voice spins the tale. Suddenly, the band busts into an instrumental flourish reminiscent of Rush, displaying serious talent all around. The dramatic climax of “You” bleeds directly into the ballad “Something About Here,” and it’s a blessing that Patrick chose to keep the album moving rather than get overly cinematic and drawn out. The whole thing clocks in at 34 minutes, and he’s likely to get a lot more listeners willing to give the album a chance because of it.
Patrick still gets his poignant point across, though. You can close your eyes and see the sepia-toned streets of someone’s hometown whizzing by during “Something About Here,” feel the dreadlocked dread growing in the irie crunch of “See the Light,” and float in the dizzying, diverse atmosphere of “Like Yesterday.” “Calling for Rain” is pleasantly funky, but it is at that point of the album that the experience starts to wear thin. Beyond Patrick’s vision, which will be appreciated by some and mocked by others, there are a few issues that keep In the Midst of the Raging Storm from fully succeeding. “Calling for Rain,” for instance, features another fine instrumental segment and guitar solo along with a catchy hook, but the song is beset by overwrought synthesized strings that only distract the ear. Michael White (drums) and Hal Jordan Ketofsky (bass) make a fine rhythm section that should be featured, not hidden, as they are too often here. “Into the Storm” is the album’s weak point, as one can hear Patrick’s formula beginning to reveal itself between the songs keyboard twinkles and sappy lyrics.
The finish is a bit of redemption. The refreshing classic rock crunch of “My Little Darlings” displays how Patrick thrives in an uptempo environment, and the climactic “Reprise: In the Midst of the Raging Storm” allows him to wax as melodramatic as he can dream. Somewhere between the sound effects, constant synth embellishments and layered vocals lurks a fine four piece rock band that could benefit from a little less orchestration. But even through the electronic haze, it’s easy to see the potential Patrick and his mates possess.