Kory Hilpmann is a twenty-year old musician hailing from Oakland, NJ. His solo release Whispers After Dark revolves around piano, guitar and vocals. The first three tracks contain piano while the second half revolves around guitar. He points to Ben Folds, Billy Joel, Seabird and Bright Eyes as influences and all of that makes sense when you delve into his music.
Whispers After Dark varies in recording quality but it is fairly obvious that it's a home recording. The guitars are a bit tinny and the vocal treatment could have been better but the raw songwriting still shines through.
Hilpmann shines a little bit more as an instrumentalist than a singer at this point. He is really a good piano player and I was consistently impressed. His singing could still use some work. He is noticeably off key at points and has some minor issues with his inflection.
He opens with “Lost In Your Eyes” which is reminiscent of a saloon style piano bar type song. It dances upon the topic of true love in an Elizabethan Shakespeare kind of way. “I Don't Need Your Help” has a similar vibe but also suffers from some of the vocal problems present in the first song. On the next song “Wounds” he double tracked his vocals and it unequivocally sounds better. “Wounds” was the highlight of the six songs. It’s a catchy song with heartfelt emotion.
“Not Too Much To Ask” is another success. Hilpmann’s guitar sounds good and his vocal delivery is spot on throughout most of the song. He continues to romanticize the concept of love as if there is no dirt or grime to deal with on ““Not Too Much To Ask” and “Missing You.”
The most impressive thing about Hilpmann is his songwriting. This is where he shines. The songs are well put together and he has a good sense of how to build tension and release. It may be hard for him to hear but at least with this release he doesn't seem to be a naturally gifted singer but he shouldn’t let that deter him. He will undoubtedly get better the more he practices but he may also want to consider working with a vocalist on a project or two so he can focus on the arrangement of the song.
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