Harry Irene’s self-titled album Harry Irene is the perfect example of how the Internet continues to transform the music industry. It’s rare I get to hear something so niche and purposefully eccentric. The album is a tidy five tracks and yet manages to plow through a plethora of genres. You’ll go from Bossa-nova to very early grunge to almost acid jazz. Traditional song formats do not live here, let it be known. It’s as though you are experimenting with them in real time, and thanks to the Internet, they can do that and put it out to the masses, no problem.
The first thing you should be aware of is where this album comes from. Jule Rauter and Addison DeSantis are out of Chico, California. They are active in their local music and theater community in Chico and knowing this gave me a lot of insight. There is a theatrical element to what they have here. The album is acoustic and over that you get these lovely vocals that on occasion border on the spoken word realm. Cohesion doesn’t really exist for this album; these guys are rule breakers and I can dig that. The one thread that really ties everything together is the vocals examining the human race with the lyrics.
The words are pretty blunt and carry the heavy weight of truth. You get that right from the start with the first track “People Doing Things.” This track is very conversational, asking internal questions, debating with itself, very raw and human. My favorite track, which happens to be the last, is “Everybody Runs.” The title alone holds one of those harsh truths no one wants to talk about, again very raw and refreshingly honest.
The artists seem very comfortable with this album having a homemade sound. They had no problem letting us know this was recorded in a bedroom. To be honest, yes, it’s easy to tell but it does fit the mold for these two. There is nothing wrong with a bedroom recording but I feel a lack of audio polish robs the listener of everything that’s going on. The vocals are soft, but the words are so potent and too often they get drowned out which for me defeats the purpose of this theatrical mood they’re building. Another great thing the Internet has done for music is to allow everyone access to resources that can elevate their work in several ways including audio.
The trickiest part about this album for me was determining an occasion for me to want to listen to it. Trying to find a place or time for replay value was tough, it’s a little too engaging to work to or just to have as background music. Same thing goes for social engagement.
I came to understand that this work for me personally is probably best consumed live, at least in its current form. I imagine if you’re someone who loves listening to musicals in the car or whenever, this album could ring your bell. I personally feel Harry Irene have great musical instincts and I’ll admit there was a part of me that would love to hear an instrumental or more traditionally formatted piece. The album is interesting and truly thought provoking, it took me out of my comfort zone and I enjoyed the experience.
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