Ronnie Day - The Album Release Date: 11/14/06 Record Label: The Militia Group
Chris Carrabba is 31 years old right now. Now, that number might still register in the "spring chicken" category in life’s continuum, but not so much anymore for his musical arena. While a man with that many decades of experience could just be getting started elsewhere, emo is becoming more like Olympic gymnastics, where careers both start and end early. Emo fans are now more concerned with empathy than wisdom, and as such, are having a tougher time responding to Carrabba and his Dashboard anthems. Sure, his sales are still pretty damn brisk, but with every subsequent release, Dashboard Confessional has gotten exponentially less convincing. It is this aging loss of relevance that has set the stage for a proverbial "changing of the guard" and the ascension of Dashboard Jr...err, Ronnie Day.
Now, before anyone asks, no - Ronnie is not related to the Howie of the same surname. Day is a made-up moniker to keep things simple, but in reality he very well could be blood bonded to the popular "Collide" crooner. Ronnie's music follows that similar path that has been traversed time and time again. Sensitive subject matters revolving around love and the lack thereof. Clean, crisp guitar lines that trade off between acoustic and electric. And of course, soaring choruses supplied like they're going out of style. However, the big difference with Day is that his biographical backstory is just as intriguing as his music. At the ripe old age of 18 years old (after having left school at 16) he is much more qualified to be the poster boy for all things emo for a decade plus. I mean, hell, it's a lot better than listening to some 31 year old, right?
As an album, The Album (see how nicely that works out?) is a mixed bag. Day offers up some legitimate bits of genius, but at the same time, there are forces within his work that seem to crave a sense of equilibrium, and as such, he counteracts these highlights with some mundane exercises in mediocrity. Ronnie vividly paints himself as a deft songsmith with the ultra-anthemic "Written at a Rest Stop" - a huge hit in waiting if there ever was one. Likewise, tracks like "Outside" center around tremendous choruses, while "Call My Name" offers up some understatedly gorgeous two-part harmonies. Nevertheless, as good as these tracks are, they are undercut by less appealing Ben Kweller-y story cuts ("Half Moon Bay") and those rife with lyrical clichés ("Heroes Die"). When Day is on, he is really quite clever, spouting out the nice little takes on life. He sings such pleasantries as, "And I'm honest as a photo booth/ I'm just playing off of you/ But you're leaving me fast as lightning/ You're leaving me just to spite me." However, when the youngster stops trying to add a layer to his mystique, we are left with little more than WB soundtrack fodder like, "Sometimes we watch our heroes die/ And we don’t know why/ We don’t know why they/ Left us so young/ Sometime we watch our mirrors cry/ And we don’t know why/ We don’t know why they/ Left us undone." Not exactly Pulitzer material.
For all of the variation between the songs on The Album, everything is tied together with one thread. They all sound fantastic. The production is absolutely top-notch and under the layer of carnauba shine, it is undeniable that Day writes an extremely appealing pop song. However, throughout the entire album, Day has one big problem. He is never entirely believable. On songs when he should be breaking your heart with tales of his own, the credibility never comes across. For all of his gifts, Ronnie seems to think that lowering his voice to a hush and slapping on a layer of rasp are the only requisites for sincerity. Younger listeners might buy in, but those a smidge wiser will not. And really, it all makes sense. Between the record's useless interludes and all-too-convenient story arc, everything on The Album is a little too slick. When Day proclaims "I know life/ And I know love" as an 18-year-old, one can't help but think the kid is either unauthentic or naive.
By the end of the disc, a few summarizing points stand out from the rest. As a whole, The Album is a better record than anything Chris Carrabba has written since The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, but even still, Day sounds like he is singing someone else's songs. With the exception of "Past Through" we are never privy to any tangible sense of emotion from the youngster. But it still stands as a testament to Day's keen sense of songwriting when the album is still a veritable joy to listen to. Pick up the album, but don't be surprised if you find yourself singing along with a smile. Maybe not the full intent of a lovelorn opus, but hey, might as well just have fun with it.
This review is a user submitted review from Steve Henderson. You can see all of Steve Henderson's submitted reviews here.
Alternative Press trashed this, but I like it. It's certainly a bit immature, but he's young and so am I, so I relate. I think he'll evolve into something truly great, just like I think Dashboard (who, no offense to you Steve, are still alive and kicking, in my opinion. They're still selling out huge venues and I think their music is something that younger people can continue to discover and enjoy while his older fans who have grown with him can really appreciate where the new stuff is taking them) has.
i like how you give credit where it is due but you also admit that not every song on here is wonderfully written. however, a agree that it is a great listen and i really do smile when i hear this album. i also jokingly called him dashboard jr. at first....but he is pretty cool. kind of like this review.
I actually just reviewed this album for my college station and I agree wholeheartedly. Overall it is a really amazing pop record and definitely sets the stage for a nice career. While it does lack some sincerity, it is so god damn catchy. Plus the kid has a great voice.
Dave Melillo, I find his music more enjoyable but Im still going to check out RD's new cd. I have the ep and I like it. I am more impressed w/his live show. Best of luck to this guy, I am sure he will do well.