13 July 2019 (released)
24 October 2019
With the days getting shorter, colder and greyer and the sun no longer baking our skin to darker hues, we're all settling back into our normal mode. We don't need to exhibit boundless exuberance and unencumbered happiness anymore, it's fine to sit in for the night and reflect and maybe, dare it be said, feel sad. As much as we all love the warmth of summer, there is something nice about settling back into the rhythm of fall. Young singer Bryan Away's latest EP Give In definitely has strong fall vibes. The 5-track record has a sleepy, wistful, indie feel touching on those familiar themes of loss and isolation. The Chicago artist enlisted the help of producer James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Desner) to shape the record's sound and add drums and percussion. The result is an album with an impressively light touch that can swell to fullness with a slight nudge.
The opener and title track has a sleepy hypnotic repetition to it. Like Elliot Smith singing to a music box. The creamy Rhodes piano lends its calming influence to the track. The quiet is quickly overwhelmed by impending doom piano which hits fast but washes away quickly. The track masterfully ebbs and flows with Radiohead-like pacing. 'Birthday Song' has the most common rock song elements of any track on the album. His phrasing can be a little awkward at times but the airy instrumentation blurs the lines enough to make it work.
'Children' is a fingerpicked guitar track that owes much to White Album tracks like 'Dear Prudence', 'Julia', 'Mother Nature's Son' and 'Blackbird' as well as much of James Taylor's work. 'Pour One Out' is, if not the album's best, at least its best executed. All the elements flow together in a rolling, in the pocket shuffle. Strings enter at the perfect time lifting the jazz fusion piece off the ground. A special shout out for Jefferey Wheaton's superbly nimble bass lines that meander all over the track yet always find themselves in lockstep with the drums, never hogging the spotlight despite their brilliance. 'Ode to the Dog Days' wraps the album up with a lazy afternoon sprawl out.
The Give In EP is an expertly crafted album musically. The vocal cadence takes some getting used to but you quickly become accustomed after the second or third listen. The Radiohead vibes are strong but are informed by Bryan Away's midwest, Illinois charm rather than Yorke and company's brit/euro inflection.