He Is We - He Is We
Record Label: FrameworkNY
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Note: This album is actually a collection of past demos, but for the sake of this review, I'll be reviewing it as if it was an album.
With how much music there is to choose from in our every growing music scene, it’s never surprising when you find one of those sleeper hits. An album that completely came out of left field. No hype surrounding the release, no friends chattering about the most recent [insert band name here] song. Just a pure instance of fate. Something that puts you out of your typical comfort zone and floors you with how much talent you have been missing out on.
He Is We is basically comprised of two members, Rachel Taylor on vocals and Trevor Kelly on acoustic guitar. Although they credit other members for their work on other instruments, when you listen to He Is We’s self titled album, you realize that the heart and soul of this band lies in Taylor’s beautiful, soaring voice and the passionate, never boring acoustic guitar that lays beneath it. They work this angle well, managing to accomplish a full band feel even on their songs that are stripped down to their most intimate of levels.
The album begins strong with possibly the best song on the album. “Radio” is a 4-minute epic that accomplishes a lot as not only the first track on the album, but as a complete portrait of what you can expect on the rest of the record. Let it be known that if you don’t enjoy this song, you probably won’t find anything that blows your socks off on the rest of the tracks. The slow paced acoustic guitar is beautiful with out being overly technical. For the most part, the guitar lines work as a base as apposed to Taylor’s voice who gives the songs a life of their own. Her voice truly shines on this song and once the full band kicks in, head bobbing is never out of the question. A good way to describe Taylor’s voice would be Taylor Swift if she wasn’t singing sappy country songs about John Mayer. The lyrics do come across as cheesy at times, “Radio, bleed me a melody, that will make this boy wonder why, he was so cold,” but they don’t effect the song enough to question. If anything they help build the environment He Is We is trying to create.
The next song, “Give It All,” follows the slightly different dynamic. It feels like quiet kid in class who sits in the corner drawing pictures all day. The art is there, the emotion is there, but they’re not hopping around banging pans together in front of your face. It’s a more subtle approach and it works well. Although it picks up at the end with some mildly entertaining orchestral lines.
“I Wouldn’t Mind” brings back the passion and it’s at about this point in the record where you realize what you’ve stumbled upon. The best word to describe this song is gorgeous, everything about it flows so well, and Taylor never misses out on a chance to show their audience how beautiful her voice truly is. Kelly also steps up his guitar work in this song, giving some fluent tempo changes and creating a much more complete feeling song.
“Pardon Me” is fantastic. There are some signs of vocal distortions (auto-tune) in the chorus of the song, but it works well and it’s never used to make her voice better. More as a tool that adds to overall completeness of the song. The next song battles “Radio” as one of the best songs on the album. “Pour Me Out” feels like a complete change of direction, in the best possible way. The words flow so easily from Taylor’s mouth to our ears that this becomes a great song to sing a long too. The nice thing is once again the audience is taken aghast by some immature and cheesy lyrics (“Wake up in the morning it’s not so bad, I can taste you on my lips and it makes me sad”), but the way they are delivered just adds to the feeling of innocence the song helps portray.
Regardless of my strong feelings of adoration for this band, the release takes a turn for the worse past “Pour Me Out.” All the melodies seem bland, the lyrics feel repetitive, and some times I’m not sure if she’s singing about a relationship or their religious beliefs. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but the fact that at some moments I couldn’t tell whether or not she was talking to a boy who broke her heart, or the source of her religion made me feel a little uneasy. It further shows how bad Taylor’s lyrics can be and hopefully she intends on being more concrete than abstract with the details they decide to add in future endeavors.
Despite a boring and tacked on second half, this is an album you don’t want to miss. There is great talent here and I am happy to have found this band. I’m sure that in the future they will grow on all of the things that make their music beautiful and take a good hard look at their less than stellar lyrics and the monotony that comes with some of their melodies. When asked what their band name means, Taylor replied, “It’s all about relationships with you guys, we’re all equal and our name helps us remember that.” I don’t know about you, but that is a the kind of band that I have no problem adding to my library.