There aren’t that many musicians that have enough talent or vision to support an entire artistic persona, usually relegating meaningless tasks such as “drumming” and “bass” to other members so they can swoon and charm their way into the nudity of female fans. Artists like Luis Dubuc (The Secret Handshake), Casey Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter), and Kevin Devine are a few of the dying breed of ambitious self-made musicians that are either entirely too creative for their own good, or just hate letting others meddling in their precious projects. Adding another name to that list, after a cadre of EP’s and four well-accepted studio albums (the earliest of which 03′s “Calendar Days” made me double-check how old I had gotten), Fort-Worth’s very own Bryce Avary, also known as The Rocket Summer, has completed his latest record “Life Will Write The Words” and he should already be on your playlist if you have a thing for multi-instrument, singer-songwriters. If he isn’t, this record will change your mind.
Jumping right into the world of light and frothy rock, Bryce introduces us to the first of many sugary tracks, “Run And Don’t Stop,” which creates a stir of tone-heavy guitars and nimble basslines as he croons along with his signature energetic voice. A difference you notice from the beginning between The Rocket Summer and the solo artists I mentioned before, is Bryce’s unwavering theatrics and ranging vocal talent, which you begin to notice, seeps from every song on “Life Will Write The Words,” turning the “Oh Oh Oh’s” and “Uh Oh Uh’s” of “Revival” from what we would normally call “lyrical filler” into a series of vocals warm-ups that fills your heart with warmth — as well as creating powerful and honest acoustic ballads near the tail-end of this effort. Established fans of The Rocket Summer will quickly pick up that even with Bryce’s well-known radiant musical personality and familiar wide-variety of instruments, this new record feels like it has been injected with “America’s Got Talent” crystal-clear production (despite the fact Bryce recorded it in producer Steve Rokks’ modest personal studio) while also introducing new combinations of instruments (ie. mandolin, banjo, trashcans and even a typewriter) — making it obvious that he’s reaching for more appeal, but not at the cost of his creativity.
A favorite of mine is the touching track “Old Love” which hits on a sweet note with the lyrics “I had a dream that could save my life. Airplane hands in the wind in a vintage time. I want to love like my grandfather loved his wife, but I have a problem with the way I tick.” Bryce mentioned in interviews that he likes “to write songs that are an honest reflection of what’s going on in [his] life and in [his] mind while [he] observe[s] and attempt[s] to learn more about [him]self and this beautiful, intense world we live in,” and I believe this song is a perfect example of that — with older traditions and pastimes of love interacting with the new instant gratification and paradigms of commitment. In the other hand, the simple progression tracks such as The Secret Handshake-inspired “200,000” and the quintessential piano-guided rock song “Underrated,” are both nonthreatening but enjoyable fluffy pieces of transition in between the album’s bookends.
With ending songs such as the stripped-down, acoustic ballad “Soliders” as well as the echoed pianos and soulful vocals from “Scrapbook” which look to end “Life Will Write The Words” with a whimper instead of a bang, this heart-felt, and surprisingly spiritual record has a lot more heart and intuition than a cursory listen would suggest. After several spins, The Rocket Summer‘s latest effort really sinks in deep, with a selection of songs that are both filled with an exchange of infectious hooks and memorable touching moments. [Staff]
Score: 4 (out of 5)
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Record Label: Aviate Records
Genre: Indie/Pop Rock
RIYL: Jack’s Mannequin, The Morning Of, Kevin Devine
1. Run and Don’t Stop
3. Prove It
4. Old Love
6. Just for A Moment Forget Who You Are
7. Circa 46
10. The Rescuing Type
12. Ashes Made of Spades
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