An intentionally blurry painting of a rolling grassland and cloudy skies set up The Greenstone EP to be a truly expansive record and hints at country and Americana roots. Nineteen-year-old Ben Somerville, active in music for much of his life, does not disappoint such expectations, and by including unique elements from indie rock and pop styles, he creates an unforgettable debut album.
“Manna” begins with hushed acoustic guitar and builds throughout the song to a climactic ending with crashing cymbals and unfettered vocals. Somerville explores his vocal range within the melodies of the tune, jumping effortlessly to falsetto when he sees fit. The instrumentation in this track is noticeably dynamic, even so that the light taps of the drums when they first come in forcefully grab the listener’s attention in a surprisingly good way.
The next track “Counterprofeit” features alternative rock influences and a melodious electric guitar leads the way through several different musical terrains as the song wanders from minor chording to major chording and back again with occasional vocal harmonies and instrumental builds that add much to the song’s appeal. In “Taxintermission” Somerville fiddles around on his mandolin for a solid two minutes, giving the listener a brief respite from the more complex songs.
A thumping stand-up bass and upbeat piano are both employed in “Concavescent” giving the stoic song a jazzy bounce that contrasts well with the mostly dejected lyrics and overall gloominess of the tune. The piano continues its jaunt into the spotlight in “Tripwired” a beautiful ballad with reverb-laced vocals and a gradual increase in volume and complexity until the very end of the song.
The album comes to a close with “Endothermic” as droning organ notes float across the up-tempo drums, optimistic vocals and muted guitars. The last track is reflective yet forward-looking, and as Somerville lays down lightning-paced guitar riffs, the listener is left with no doubt as to whether he will continue his music career. Surely, more great music will be heard before long from this talented artist!
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