I do not envy the modern day singer/songwriter. I can identify with them, being a person who works alone with words and tries to use them in an order that makes thoughtful sense. With the explosion of social media and computer software that one can use to record and make their own music sound expensively done the singer /ongwriter market, hell the band market in general, is very cut throat.
There is no lack of talent out in the musical world, and no lack of talented people all vying for valuable ear time with as many listeners as they can get. Yet this devil’s advocate way of thinking never comes across the minds of those of us who forge on, knowing full well how the deck is stacked against us, or if it does come across our minds we quickly shoo it away. We are a determined bunch.
The New York indie folk singer/songwriter Sydney Robinson is also one of those in this determined bunch. And like so many other singer/songwriters floundering about on that great island of dreams she has plenty of talent. Robinson, who is now twenty-one, wrote the first song for her debut record, Rain on the River, when she was just sixteen.
The song “California” is a lush, hushed thing of beauty. Robinson’s vocals are honey-sweet and powerful at the same time and stacked on top of one another her harmonies are “Beatlesque.” The production value is spot on, not relying so much on any sense of real rhythms but more so using electronic elements of breezy synths like on the opener “California” and then background chatter and some handclaps on the brilliant “I Would” which in itself is worth the price of admission here.
It also shows that Robinson knows the score here and is not afraid to take some chances to give her “acoustic folk” record some depth, stretching the genre to its limits. It reminded me of Amber Bain, the British indie-folkster who performs under the moniker The Japanese House.
But when Robinson wants to be straight up folky, she has no problem delivering the goods and holding her own against the competition as she proves on the slow and gentle ambient acoustic ramblings of “Colorado” and on the quiet and patient drizzles of guitar on “Rain on the River” which is a simple and brilliant piece of music as is the equally poignant “Lorelei.”
Rain on the River is one of the best records I have heard in some time from a yet widely unknown act. Though I don’t think Sydney Robinson will stay unknown for too long after people start listening to this record and realizing that there are some truly amazing forces at work here.
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