Esmé Patterson
"All Princes, I"

(Greater Than Collective 2012)Esmé Patterson - All Princes, I

Esmé Patterson's album, "All Princes, I," of almost angelic sounding melodies comes as a welcome relief in an era increasingly marked with sterile and dead sounding music. Her songs have substantial musical depth, with tasteful orchestration which color the compositions very well. Her writing is good enough, both musically and lyrically, to not necessarily require such rich and varied arranging. However, being as such, the songs sound as though they deserve all the layered touches.

"My Young Man" intros the album with a soaring vocal on Patterson's part, a song about the beauty of remaining human and real through it all. "Won't you look into my heart and see that all of my blood is still red," she sings. Amen to that. "All the Days," the next track, is not as strong as the opener, as it lingers on as a bit of a fragment, ending rather quickly, but it's still musical enough to get a pass. "Jessica" switches up the gears a bit, with a little bit more of some noticeable rhythm guitar work, giving it a pop rock feel, in contrast to the preceding tracks' more orchestral pop feel. "Broken Jawbone" is almost all atmosphere and little melody. There is an actual melody to be fair, linking the lyrics together, but it's rather weak. It's not a bad song but it just doesn't deliver in the way the previous tracks do. "You and Intro," an instrumental, does not deserve to be defined as a "song" per se, but its lovely violins impart a meditative trance. The album is conceptual, not necessarily a strict collection of individual compositions, so it's fully acceptable to have a track to serve as a musical link rather than as a stand alone track.

"Fall Asleep Steal Away" is a bouncy pop song about the playfulness of being in love. Again, as I've noted before with "All the Days," it ends too quickly. This only implies, however, that it's a strong enough of a song to deserve longer of a playing time. "Easter Sunday" is a melancholy and stark, piano-led tune. It's actually very beautiful. It's so good in fact that its brief playing time is even more frustrating than with the other songs. Being as that "The Swimmer," comes near the end of the album, I did not at first give it noteworthy consideration as a great song in its own right. But having listened to it a number of times, and isolating it in my appreciation from the rest of the tracks, it definitely stands alone as a fairly beautiful song. The piano is a bit more prominent than on some of the other tunes, and the there is actually a fully developed bridge, which implies that Patterson perhaps put a bit more compositional thought into developing this song.

"Aquarius" seems reminiscent to me of a Joni Mitchell song. The lyrical melody is definitely Joni-esque. It's short, but it has the character of song that isn't supposed to go on for too long, so it works perfectly, almost like a lullaby. "Sun Up 2 Sun Down" does not particularly do anything for me. It's not a bad song, and it has some lilting aura of joy, but it's basically forgettable and is easily overwhelmed by other, stronger material on this album. "No Heat" is possibly the worst song on the album. There just isn't enough of a discernible melody. It's meandering and shapeless, with nice orchestration like most of the other tracks, but with very little compositional flare. All that makes "Elysium" stand out is the meditative and soothing slide guitar. Otherwise its melody is forgettable and formless just as on the previous track. "Light of Day," the closing track, gets the same slow paced dreamy approach as much of the other tracks, but despite a few of those songs being frustratingly empty, this one is rather nice. It makes me think of a very early morning with the sun rising while walking the empty streets.

There are a few really good songs on this album, a few which aren't too bad, and then too many which are just bland and not very developed. As much as I basically like most of the music on here, I cannot give this album more than a C+.


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