I really appreciate it when artists put a lot of time into their lyrics. I appreciate it even more when their lyrics reflect their music, and vice versa. Based in Colorado, Joseph Tonelli creates delicate singer-songwriter music with a touch of ambience that excels in setting the mood that he wants to create. Although the music itself is not particularly complicated, the space found within it says enough. His newest EP titled “Dust and Snow” is a calming work of art that is both minimalistic and emotionally resonating, containing elements such as indie folk melodies, blues guitar lines and string arrangements.
The first song on the EP “Dust and Snow” offers a repetitive yet pleasant chord progression with a melancholy slide guitar line. The lyrics are highly poetic, offering some vivid imagery of nature and how it ties in to a troubled relationship. The whining nature of the slide guitar solidified the grim nature of the song, yet creates a hopeful sounding chorus. I choose to think that the chaotic nature of the electric guitar at the end of the song represents a sort of commotion or discrepancy in the process of the relationship being described in the lyrics, as the instrumentation in that section was simultaneously hectic and melodic.
Perhaps the best track on the EP “Wolf In Your Blood” does a tremendous job of creating an ambience around the focal point of guitar and vocals. The string arrangements in this piece are beautiful and touching while the guitar maintains a catchy picking pattern.
The lyrics are sweet and directed toward an anonymous character that seems to have experienced some discourse throughout their life, yet is able to return as a stronger person. The strings further accentuate the hopefulness in the lyrics; yet turn more mournful when the subject of the song becomes the narrator himself.
Although I really enjoyed Dust and Snow there is a lot of music that is very similar to it. There is a lot of folky, singer-songwriter music out there right now, and that genre is hard to integrate and to make a name for oneself. However, what Tonelli does have going for him is that the musicianship he demonstrates in regard to strings is not frequently come by.
The folk genre is unique in that the lyrics are the central focus of the music, so typically the artists that gain popular attention are those that shell out lyrics that are easy to internalize. I think Tonelli does a good job with this. However if he wants to make a name for himself, he should focus more on what makes him unique as a musician. Overall, I think this EP is solid, and I think it would be rather pleasant for anyone who listens, but at the same time there are a lot of artists out there doing comparable things.
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