C. Friend is a 21-year-old musician attending Ohio State. He composes, arranges and produces all his own music, calling his debut, In The Know, a DIY album. Playing all the instruments himself, vocals are used sparingly and are his as well, except for a few short vocal samples. The album doesn’t fit into any genre or category, as each song takes on its own vibe.
Some songs reminded me of something you would hear at a spa while getting a massage, mystical and spiritual evoking calm and relaxation. Others were rough and gritty with a rock n’ roll vibe. Every time you think you know what direction the album is taking, it takes a sharp turn the other way. The musical talent is evident with intricate guitar and piano throughout, although some of the songs feel unfinished.
The album opens with “January in Nebraska” which starts with nature sounds and birds chirping leading into a very new age, almost Native American vibe. It branched off into some folksy sounding acoustic guitar and faded out just when it sounded like it should be beginning. It was a very interesting take, but I’m not exactly sure on what. I definitely enjoyed it although I’m not quite sure I understood it. “Between Frosts” had a similar “can’t quite put your finger on it” vibe. The humming vocals were a little off putting at first but seemed to blend after a little while and actually ended up quite fitting.
“Sides of Self” took a darker, more ominous tone. It created almost a feeling of sadness and melancholy which made the vocals even more surprising when they started. This was the first time we hear C. Friend’s voice and it’s actually just how I’d picture it would be. He sings softly with an understated, almost purposely, off sound. The song again was a little confusing, but at this point, I’m beginning to think it’s intentional.
The next couple of songs had more of a rock feel, especially “Walker” which was almost an homage to grunge and was easily my favorite track on the album. I was a little disappointed that there were no vocals, but it didn’t make me like it any less. The twangy guitar solos and rough sound were enough for me.
“6 pm in November” was a unique jazzy number with an old fashioned vibe. I found myself thinking of Frank Sinatra in his early years with a fedora and a cigarette hanging from his lips. Ending the album was “Out of Fear” which returned to the folksy feeling of previous tracks with lots of acoustic guitar.
In The Know is an interesting debut. It has the allure of performance art in the way each song feels like an art piece about music instead of just a song. C. Friend has a very interesting perspective on music. I look forward to what he comes up with next.
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