[Today I present an article I wrote three years ago for the Ubyssey student newspaper. I’ve linked several articles I wrote for them in my Published Works page, but for some reason this one never made it to their online archives — thus, I present it for you here so it isn’t lost. You can also find it in the pdf archives of the April 12, 2007 issue of the Ubyssey, here. Article copyright 2007 by the Ubyssey. Reprinted with permission.]
Break Of Day
Love Minus Zero Records
There’s a new talent on the music scene, and for indie/pop fans, he’s sure to be a long-lasting favourite. Roark brings a compelling combination of strong vocals, memorable melodies, and intricate instrumentation (from acoustic and electric guitars to piano to cellos and string sections) to his first album, Break of Day.
Each of the songs has a similar feel, but most are different enough to be individually compelling, yet still effective if taken as a whole. Roark’s greatest strength is his combination of a sense of melody and rhythm that makes every song catchy, and his obvious musical talent brings to those songs powerful instrumentation that suits the specific style of the song, and strong vocal harmonies.
The album opens powerfully with the track Never Felt So Lucky, a song that in many ways exemplifies the rest of the album to come. It’s forceful, evocative, full of strong vocals; the kind of song that you can easily sing along to (assuming you can keep up with his formidable range).
Today (Perfect) takes the album in a slightly different direction. While the previous tracks primarily featured guitars, a softly beautiful piano opens this song, which becomes a truly powerful and evocative piece that grows to a potent climax by the end, bringing in a full backing string section. It’s followed by Letters, which opens with a unique staccato piano progression, progressing in a bouncy and catchy style reminiscent of Queen. Broken Smile opens softly with the intimate addition of a solo cello, builds near the end.
The next few tracks slipped my ears a little, as there is no doubt that the styles are similar to many of the songs that came before, so they offered little that was new. However, there is enough unique and catchy in each to make them all worth a listen.
Take It Slow, is another passionate acoustic/cello/string song that makes for a good wrap-up track for the entire album. My only issue is that it doesn’t end on a tonic, leaving the listener hanging a little and waiting for the next song that doesn’t come.
All in all, Break of Day represents a plethora of passionate songs combining melody and harmony using varied instrumentation and vocal techniques to create interesting and unique sounds in each piece. For those who enjoy the pop feel and passionate music, Roark is sure to please, and is certain to grow in the music scene.