"It's always exciting to see somebody carrying his soul over into more vulnerable areas," comments Boysetsfire singer Nathan Gray on his latest work in collaboration with Stick To Your Guns frontman Jesse Barnett, summarizing the artistic congruence of both musicians into one point. Already in past solo projects, both Barnett and Gray, who usually stand for rather driving-loud songs in their main bands, had showed their vulnerable side. But now, they are both as intimate and personal as never before on their shared split EP. In the field of tension between thoughtful-reduced songwriter pop and melancholic emo-punk, Gray and Barnett play songs that show them as people behind the tireless rock star roles.
In the first half of the EP, Nathan Gray presents three tracks that he recorded with Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls in New York at the beginning of the year and that show him both thoughtfully and aggressively. This becomes particularly clear in the orchestral climax of "Enough," a song in which Gray lyrically frees himself of burdening factors of his life. After this cathartic purification, the singer drifts into more powerful spheres, stages a powerful chorus in "Find Me" amplified by piano and strings, and closes with a bracing battle cry in "Brighter."
"Of all the songs on the EP, Brighter is the one that has undergone the greatest transformation and reflects most of what will be my sound in the future," explains Nathan, giving an outlook on his upcoming release plans and the increasing number of instruments in his sound.
In contrast, Jesse Barnett's songs are much more reduced. With beautifully spherically designed acoustic guitar melodies, the singer reflects the dreamy and sad moments of love and implies timeless influences of artists like Nick Drake. The rapturous "Amsterdam" is about a decelerating journey of Barnett's to the Dutch capital: "I'm constantly on the move, and even when I finish a tour, I immediately find things that I should also do. The song is about how my wife Savannah met me in Amsterdam and we had one of the best vacations of our lives. The song reminds me to slow down and consciously look around before life passes me by!"
The much more thoughtful "Hang Your Love" is Barnett's personal dedication to his wife's zest for life. "She is the best person I know! She loves everything. She always sees the good in people and carries a constant enthusiasm in herself. We are very different in there. She just makes me better!"
In the final "Stay With Me," the singer becomes wistful again and looks back on a past relationship with a touching sensation.
The collaboration between Nathan Gray and Jesse Barnett proves to be a fruitful artistic rethinking that already had its origins in the meeting of the two on a joint tour a few years ago. Meanwhile, both singers have big plans with their main bands again: Gray will be playing a big tour with Boysetsfire in the fall for the 25th anniversary of the band and is currently working on a new solo album already. Barnett will return to Europe with Stick To Your Guns at the end of 2019, where the hardcore veterans will play their two biggest headline shows in Cologne and Berlin.
Tracklist: 01. Enough (Nathan Gray) 02. Find Me (Nathan Gray) 03. Brighter (Nathan Gray) 04. Amsterdam (Jesse Barnett) 05. Hang Your Love (Jesse Barnett) 06. Stay with Me (Jesse Barnett)
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