For anyone who is not an artist the life of an artist can be very hard to understand sometimes. The serious artist, to survive, must constantly be working either on a project of love or at a job aimed to support one being able to later make that project of love. The results can be long and tiring and sometimes may take years to pay off and even then can often be very minimal. But still the artist must forge on despite whatever comes, because that is the way they are programmed, that is what they live for.
This seems to be to be the case for the New York singer/songwriter Claudio Soto aka The Stolen Truth whose debut record Once is a project he’s been working very hard at for quite a long time now. The title comes from the adage that we only live once so we might as well make the best of what we have with our lives. For Soto this record marks an epoch on a journey he’s been on for several years.
Once is a loud and intense record at times, and it seems an ode to ‘90s underground rock and grunge. The guitars are dirty and full of sludge, as are Soto’s sneering vocals. For those fans of ‘90s grunge who never moved on Once is the perfect record for you. But it is also a good record because the songs have to them the richness that craft and heart and of course hard work can bring to any composition.
Soto opens the record with “Mines of Gold” a song that grips the listener from the beginning. Its catchy riff and sneering vocals capture the old magic that made grunge what it was, an expressive form for those who aren’t necessarily lovable but still deserving of love and are just seeking it in a form frittered with madness. Next comes the equally sludgy rocker “In Here.” But here Soto takes the tune down tempo, and its slowness becomes a fascinating pace that eventually works its way into an angrier new skin, like a snake shedding.
Later on songs like the blues driven “The Torch” Soto recalls the early years of Nirvana, the grittier post stardom non radio hits that the masses shied away from at the time. There is beauty here; one hears it and feels it. This may sound like a rough composition but is likely the work of many hours of toil. The same goes for the hollow-rock banger “Who Brought Me Here” on which Soto’s sneer threatens to drown out the drone of the guitars.
The Stolen Truth is what they refer to as an “artist’s artist,” someone who other well-known artists seek inspiration from but rarely tell about, wanting instead to keep them a secret for their own sake. Once is a record that I’m certain will give way to many more fruitful recordings, and hopefully when heard will inspire others to put forth equally impressive work.
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