A unique album of original music from a talented and versatile songwriter who shifts effortlessly from rock to folk to R&B to country to blues and even jazz.
Album: Eclectic Circus
Reviewed by Matthew Warnock
Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, earth.boy has had a long love affair with the music industry, writing and recording his own songs. Though he worked for many years in a job outside the music business, after a health issue in 2011, earth.boy took a long look at his bucket list and decided the time was right to release a record of his original songs. The resulting album, Eclectic Circus, is a collection of 14 Blues and Rock influenced tracks that showcase the wide-range of influences earth.boy draws from in his writing, as well as the skills he has developed as a songwriter and performer over the years.
As a vocalist, earth.boy possesses a deep and powerful voice, that he uses effectively to build intensity and develop a relationship with his listeners during the course of his vocal lines and melody phrases. “Death is a Slow Train” features the Canadian singer with a Neil Young tinge to his vocal lines. Though it is not an imitation, one can’t help but hear the influence that the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter has had on earth.boy. As well, “A Long Way Down to Paradise” brings to mind the deep and dark vocals of another Canadian great, Leonard Cohen. By channeling some of his influences into these, and other, tracks, earth.boy is allowing his background to come to the forefront of his performance, allowing the listener a familiar path to follow as he then introduces them to his personalized approach to singing and songwriting.
Besides the blues and Rock influences found throughout the record, there are also moments when earth.boy digs into the Country and Southern Rock genres as the vehicle for his artistic expression. Songs such as “Full Time Fool” bring an element of Country and Southern Rock to the mix in a way that adds variety to the record, but stays true to earth.boy’s vocal quality and songwriting style. As well, the songwriter also features some heavier moments on the record, as is the case with “Who’s That Boy,” which features a pounding drum beat, distorted guitar lines and palm-muted punk-style chord riffs. By allowing himself to explore various genres in his writing, without compromising his own voice in the process, earth.boy allows himself to explore the myriad possibilities that each genre and style has, without having the album sound scattered as a result. This is one of the reasons that the album never becomes predictable or boring, as well as one of the reasons the album is so successful as a whole.
While earth.boy explores various styles throughout the record, some of the biggest highlights are the moments when he digs into the Blues as the chosen style for a particular song. Tracks such as “Walkin’ Blues” brings out a Steve Ray Vaughan inspired guitar lick, mixed with a classic Blues vocal line and background horn riffs in a way that is traditional in nature, but that goes beyond what one would expect from a classic Blues track. By inserting his own style, such as doubling the vocal line with the guitar in certain parts of the song, earth.boy breathes new life into the often overdone Blues formula of vocals, fills, solo repeat, giving the listener a new perspective on a long-loved genre and songwriting format.
Overall Eclectic Circus is a strong release for earth.boy, one that leaves the listener wanting more and hoping that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of this talented Canadian singer/songwriter.
Reviewed by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 4.5 Stars (out of 5)