A SoCal mind set for whimsical tales spun over a cozy unplugged setting. That’s the scene in my mind as I listen to singer/songwriter Justin La Torre croon around life’s complexities. For being instrumentally minimal there’s quite a bit of rich texture that happens through his words and the talent around him, specifically the backing harmonies and ethereal accompaniment thanks to the keys and ocarina on Becoming Avalon’s EP Quiet War.
On “Wrong Love” the charming acoustics pick and play around a semi sweet melody, vocals tinged with youth and naïveté. It’s an all around great sound for alternative and emotive musicians. The falsetto backing harmonies on the chorus are icing on the cake.
Quiet War is justified as the album’s name; it is strong and carries a good number of elements that are found throughout the other songs. Soft traces of percussion pace things along and the lyrical romanticism is hard to ignore.
Entrancing rays peak beneath a stripped away arpeggio on “Thieves.” This song is odd at moments harmonically but beautiful like The Beatles on drugs. Dreamy whistle tones complement the chorus and before you know it this gem is brought to a close.
The last track “Lighters and Lottery Tickets” is the only one with cymbals and generally pronounced beat. It opens with a nice wash of stick definition and then gives way to pounding backbeat. The acoustic and vocals are still just as spot-on, just further enhanced with the added instrumentation.
I have to admit some of the songs sounded a bit to commercial for my liking and the production is far from from prefect. That being said the good outweighs the bad. Quiet War is the end result from two years of hard times, self-discovery, and change. In these five songs you’ll find perspectives on love, family, and acceptance - good and bad varieties. The lyrics are read like an autobiography and while the stories tend to stay in the dark, the album is a testament to holding on to the light.
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