A Stranger at the Wheel has to be a catalyst of shining moments for Christopher Reyne, after being in countless bands around Portland, OR. He hopes that his solo work will balance out his ideas and creative spark that clearly translates into his new album. Being a multi-instrumentalist clearly comes across, along with his lyrical ability to convey a renaissance of conflicted emotions. Delicate piano scores find their apparent path on “Supply and Demand” as well as “Permanently Night” which also had a bit of a “Because” by The Beatles feel in the beginning.
Most albums have that personal quality but Reyne went a bit further with putting his life on the line. That is his personal life, like self-improvement, interaction, reaction and taking control. This ten-piece album has all the right nuts and bolts to construct an army, fitted for an orchestra. And lo-and-behold, Reyne does it all himself. A one-man band, set on changing some standards with a likeness towards Death Cab for Cutie formulating a definite sugar coated mirage that made me want to believe that Plans now had a corresponding cousin within reach. Now I hate informing people that this record sounds like another. It doesn't, but the fact is that when a song that has already been mastered and produced happens to have a responding cousin, it is somewhat of a miracle.
But Reyne intends for you to hear his album the way it was meant to - on vinyl. Somewhat of a steam-punk classical musician, A Stranger at the Wheel reveals a concentrated vibe that directs you in the direction of hallowed ground desecrated at the sight of what we’ve gone through in this lifetime.
“The Notorious Kelly Monroe” opens the entire set, and in doing so, this solid beautifully produced song somehow grabs the attention it deserves. With this one song, Reyne builds a repertoire of expert mixtures and collaboration between musical notes and the unfiltered aggression that screams out from the brigade, being held back just long enough to be recorded. As the songs in the album combine like a freight train, you’re unsure at times where it could go, which in his case turns out to be a grand gesture.
Do yourself a favor and take a listen to the work this man dedicated his last couple of years to.
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