I would have never have guessed from the lyrics and vocal delivery on Between Two Cities that Zach Kleisinger is only nineteen years old and looks every bit his age. He has a stoic, deep, soulful voice and sings about the lonely, empty feelings that have been with him since he left his hometown.
Between Two Cities is all about his vocals and guitar. There is other instrumentation but when it does appear it's low in the mix. The vocals and guitar sound as if they are about one foot away from you, which is perfect for the type of music he is playing.
The songs on Between Two Cities are sparse but powerful. For instance the exceptional opener “I Was Your Drug” could have easily been backed up with more percussion, drums and bass. The aesthetic decision to keep it simple works out for Kleisinger. In fact I was reminded of the band War on Drugs when listening to this song. The guitar and vocals are the two main elements but the organ is a very nice touch. I thought the reverb on the guitars sounded great. It gave the song a very atmospheric feel but wasn’t too drenched in reverb where the notes sounded like they were being played in a cave.
The lyrics are quite poetic and mostly come in the form of questions. He sings, “where is it you’re staying on a night like this? can I truly be too sure that you even exist?”
He lifts up the mood ever so slightly with the next track “Quit Thinkin'.” The percussion is very well done. It is subtle and strategically placed to emphasize certain sections. “How Are You?” is a beautiful, melancholy song that is heartbreaking. He sings, “if you asked me how I was, I’d say “I’m doing fine” and if you asked me if I had a girl, I’d say “yes, and she’s all mine” but how are you? can you hear me through this phone? how are you? that’s what I really wanna know.” Kleisinger shows off some of his lead guitar skills on “What's The Use Now?” while the closer “Chase Away The Moonlight” is a bluesy, melodic song with a tinge of hope.
Between Two Cities is a great EP any way you look at it but the fact that Kleisinger is barely out of high school needs to be acknowledged. The fact that he is putting on this caliber of material is impressive and certainly points for better things to come. If he keeps improving it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that he can make a living off this music thing.
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