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Non-Prog CD Reviews

CALVERT

This Beautiful Life, Vol. 1

Review by Gary Hill

In order to properly review this, I should talk a bit about music, and particularly the trend in a lot of modern pop. Looking to the sonic art form, the creation of it is a very human experience. Listening to music also seems a way to connect to humanity. We've created tools for that form of expression about as long as there has been music. Probably the earliest tools were percussive instruments little more than hitting something with your hand or a stick.

Modern pop, though, takes music that is produced and uses computers to alter the very sound of the instruments and voices. In many cases there are no real instruments in use at all. You can look at it really as the sonic equivalent of motion capture CGI. It can be stunning. When it comes to music, though, too much of it can suck all the humanity out of it. It can be entertaining, but it also misses connection on a certain human level.

Well, all that was just the prelude to this review. CALVERT's music fits well into modern pop sound. The thing is, there are only a couple songs here that wind up having the soul pulled out of them via over-production. Some of the other pieces show how letting up just a bit on the production can create something that appeals to modern pop audiences, but still manages to connect with reality.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Please With a Cherry
Electronic textures bring this into being. The cut has a great vibe and some killer dance music textures. It's rhythmic, and the vocals bring some soulful feeling to this. This is pop music, but it's a lot of fun.
Heartbeat
This is not as successful as the opener was in terms of representing real music. It's processed out of the realm of feeling at all like real music. That said, it has solid hooks and enough rhythmic drive to make it work on the dance floor. Beyond that, the overproduction seems like it's just about perfect for modern pop radio.
Move On (feat. Jonathan Mendelsohn)
The electronic percussion that starts this is cool. The cut works outward from there with some electronic dance stylings that work well. While this is also overproduced, it's not the point of pulling all the life out of the piece. This is a rather melodic cut that is effective. It seems to land somewhere between the first two songs in terms of "real music."
Wanna Be
There is a rather symphonic vibe to this cut. It earns a definite parental advisory on the lyrics. In terms of musical qualities, this is the real winner of the set. It has some definite art rock built into it. It's more of a rock song (versus dance pop) than the songs that preceded it were. This still has plenty of pop music in the mix, though. It's kind of the proverbial best of both worlds.
This Beautiful Life
I dig the percussion on this track. The number has a lot of energy. It's another that's more of a rock song. Yet it still feels like it fits well with contemporary radio.
 
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