Frank Ruvoli is an indie pop/rock artist from northwest Indiana. He learned to play guitar through the self-taught process of watching YouTube videos in 2011. Later, he gained confidence and began to write his own songs. Ruvoli was performing live by 2013 and in 2015, he released a ten-song demo that he handed out at live shows for free. This is the true way of the independent artist and Ruvoli’s dedication to growing a fan base does not come at the price of low-quality, crowd-pleasing music. His latest EP entitled Places I’ve Been is an intimate experience for the small and slowly-growing group of fans which has supported him since the beginning.
“Shoe Corner” is a short track which opens the six-track piece with a soft, precise drum beat and an insane bass rhythm. All of this is layered by some tempered, gentle, repetitive acoustic strumming and hungry, enthusiastic and upbeat vocals on the part of Ruvoli. I’ve never heard somebody so excitable when singing about shoes but Ruvoli sure does imbue the subject with passion and creativity. While musically repetitive, the vocals are so infectiously catchy and the track is so short that the style comes together perfectly. This is a strong start to the EP.
Unexpectedly, “Live On Forever” takes on a more psychedelic and melancholic approach. The track opens with soft, nostalgic, acoustic strumming and equally-nostalgic vocals which pertain to a certain air of sadness. The chorus is the most vocally beautiful and melodically-addictive moment of the track, however. Ruvoli’s vocals become desperate and pained, as they beg, “Live on forever / Live on and don’t you pass.”
“Take It Slow” returns to the upbeat style present on the opener, this time opting for surf-styled guitar and the odd spattering of high-fretted, clean, electric guitar reverberating atop the madness. A gentle, repetitive sequence of piano notes drive the verses onwards. All of this is very pleasant, but it is the high-pitched, clean, guitar solos which steal the show on this track.
“Good Enough” is something new altogether. A powerful drum beat and vicious acoustic chords support Ruvoli’s passionate, rock-styled vocals this time. While remaining a sonically sweet and gentle piece, Ruvoli blends acoustic sound with energy, vibrancy and excitability once more. The lyrics ask, “Am I good enough for you? / Are you good for me? / We’ll have to wait and see.” As sad as such words may sound, the song itself is deceptively upbeat. It is only when one pays attention that they realize the potential for sorrow could reside beneath this joyous exterior.
While moments of the EP slip into something perhaps a little too restrained and peaceful, complaining about such a thing would really be nit-picking. I say this only because some of the six tracks are so melodically exciting and beautiful that the more restrained cuts left me unsatisfied. This is no bad problem to have, as it is rare that I enjoy the songs of an independent artist this much. I recommend you listen for yourselves.
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