If you’ve lately been feeling like there isn’t much guitar-born glory in popular music anymore, you’re certainly not alone. There’s been a lot fewer strings and a lot more synthetics in the pop lexicon in the past few years especially, but if you’re jonesing for something organic and rich with unfiltered harmonies of the more classical variety this autumn, Rory D’Lasnow’s new EP Songs From An Empty Room has you covered. Although comprised of only five tracks, Songs From An Empty Room is profoundly full-bodied, guitar-backed, and perhaps more evocatively stylized than some of the more hyped LPs debuting this November have been.
Delicate arrangements can be found throughout the material we discover on this disc, but I personally found those in “Happy,” “Where You Belong,” and “Power of My Love” to be really remarkable. There’s such obvious attention to detail coming from both behind and in front of the mixing board here, and yet there’s scarcely an instance in which D’Lasnow sounds like he’s pushing the limits of his own melodic presence. He knows what he’s capable of producing, and he puts it out there from the very first song in this tracklist forward.
There were a lot of different factors that made me consider shouting out Songs From An Empty Room this month, but it wasn’t until I heard D’Lasnow’s gentle lead vocal in “I Won’t Do Anything” that I became certain I was listening to an inarguable indie hit. He’s at once in love with medium and repellent of its most standardized conventions in this performance in particular, and I found the disdain he bears in his delivery to be one of the most effective attributes of any track on the record. He’s front and center with his vulnerability, which just can’t be said for the majority of his competition in the American underground today.
Rhythm is always influencing the storyline in this EP, even in slow songs like the beautiful “Forgotten,” another one of my favorite tracks on Songs From An Empty Room. There’s something really cutting about the contrast between urgent lyricism and delayed beats in this singer/songwriter’s execution, and although he isn’t obsessed with juxtaposition, it’s more than clear he’s keen on using it when it benefits a multifaceted construct like that which he’s building this record around. He deserves more credit than he gets, and I think there’s a chance his latest release might change that.
I want more from Rory D’Lasnow, and those who favor a post-hipster singer/songwriter aesthetic will likely agree with me when I say that his is one of the most accessible, virginal acoustic pop/rock sounds making its way through the circuit at the moment. This isn’t his first stab at iconic songcraft, but I’ll say now that D’Lasnow sounds much more mature here than some critics will be expecting him to be. He’s come a long way just in the last six years, and his commitment to evolving is resulting in some amazing work in Songs From An Empty Room.