Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bryan Estepa - Vessels. Review

Vessels by Bryan Estepa – reviewed by Marlene Lipson
I’ve been away from writing for a few months, but there’s nothing like an affable pen pal, a good album, and a healthy dose of self-administered guilt to bring one back from wandering.  The friendly and fun Wayne Lundquist Ford (of the blog Ice Cream Man 1967) asked me to listen to a record and give it my review.  The album, Vessels by Bryan Estepa, is also friendly and fun.  With all these good vibrations, how could I not then hop back to the keyboard and say a few words?
Bryan Estepa is a singer-songwriter who has been around the Australian music scene for several years, and has been a part of a few bands.  He’s brought in some of what and who he knows on his recent solo album, Vessels, and the result is good.  The album plays to Estepa’s strengths.  Opening with the optimistic “Won’t Let You Down” sets the listener up for the best, and the sunnier tunes are all the better ones.  I appreciate a record that sounds both familiar and new, and Vessels has that quality. 
 I know about arrangements and styles, but I’m also a lyrics person, and I have a few quibbles with some of the songs (for example: demerit for hackneyed use of the rhyming dictionary on “Hard Habit”).  Most of the time, however, the familiar themes of love and loyalty make this album feel like a refuge when other music seems just too dark, sharp-edged, or jarring.  There are times for music that evokes a dark room or an artistic enjoyment of bitterness or solitude, but there are other times when it’s good to be told even when we struggle that we’ll be all right, on tunes such as “Pull Ourselves Together.”  The best of Vessels is on the tracks that bring that sentiment across.  The songs that don’t do that overtly still get by on the strength of their craftsmanship.
The production values of this album are solid, and all the musicians have a certain ease and the sound of experienced players.  I think I’d like to go see them all at a modest-sized club on a summer’s night.

Marlene Lipson is a writer and editor in New York City. Her arts and entertainment work often carries the handle Downpourblue, and you can follow her on Twitter @downpourblue or check out her posts on Storify at (and just starting off with Google+).

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