Passing Time is the debut release from British Columbia singer/songwriter/guitarist James Seyed. He recorded and produced the set using his home-recording setup.
The songwriting on the five-track EP is somber. Lyrics are introspective and notably downbeat, taking on themes of sameness, being stuck, lack of hope and self-recrimination. “Every day's the same / Nothing seems to change,” he sings on “Can’t Find A Way.” Or, on “Another Day” - “End of another day / And it just feels the same.” “Passing Time” gets even darker. “I've lived my life, put it on hold / It's all the same, goes by so slow / Just passing time before I die.” Melodies echo these depressing sentiments--there aren’t lilting choruses here for contrast. It’s minor keys all the way.
Musically, Passing Time is a bit eclectic. The EP’s opener “Another Day” is distorted, riff-y rock that sounds like it was a lot of fun to write and record. It’s three minutes of solid rock that you could play while slaking your thirst after working a long shift.
But then Seyed takes a softer turn: the next four tracks are all acoustic-guitar numbers. While they are toned down (due to the instrumentation), his approach isn’t a coffeehouse singer/songwriter setup. He’s overdubbed several guitar parts, giving the tracks depth and thickening; this allows him to work in a few lead lines here and there, too. He’s gotten a remarkably full sound from his “very simple” home setup.
The first of the acoustic tracks “Lost in a Dream” forms a nice musical bridge between the hard rock of “Another Day” and the rest of the album. While the guitars are acoustic, the song features a chunking, power-chord progression. This track--and its sequencing--helps the album have a bit of cohesion. Of the four acoustic pieces, my favorite was “Lost Melody,” a pretty instrumental sprinkled with harmonics.
Seyed is to be applauded for trying a few different guitar-based paths on his debut EP. The hard rock approach (“Another Day”) feels like his comfort zone, and seems to fit best for this batch of songs, but he clearly is capable of heading down the acoustic path, especially with his multi-guitar approach. I look forward to hearing the follow up.
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