“Rose” kicks off Patrick Doval’s latest album release, Broken, with a focused and rough-edged guitar attack, but newcomers get another hint of his rambunctious spirit in the way he approaches the song. His first vocal doesn’t enter the song at the expected point and Doval lets the musical energy build before unleashing his voice on listeners. The inspired quality of the song is impossible to ignore and Doval’s attention to detail, from a production viewpoint, helps make the song an even more vibrant listening experience. He takes a sharp turn towards even more inspired heights with the album’s second song “In You” and it’s impressive how much he accomplishes from such seemingly spartan materials – much of this song’s success is attributable to its intensely percussive piano playing and the palpable upswing of Doval’s voice.
The jumpy tempo of “Promise Land” propels the song along and the track’s overall sound is reminiscent of 80’s music without ever coming off as slavish imitation. The arrangement moves forward in virtual lockstep without ever surrendering the ever elusive quality of “feel” – Doval’s production invests the instruments with a warm aura that draws listeners in. “Paris” has a similar sound while still standing out. As the title implies, there’s a slightly continental vibe to the song and Doval’s singing reaches emotional peaks we haven’t heard since the album’s second cut “In You”. Doval’s vocals possess the ability to pull listeners to any experience without ever seeming to strain for the desired effects.
“You Lied to Me” takes a distinctly different style with its sultry funk heart and the gritty guitar work, but Doval doesn’t turn his back on Broken’s overarching pop point of view. Melody is an ever present facet of Patrick Doval’s music, even in its edgiest moments, and helps salve some of the bitter strands in Doval’s lyrics for this track. The title song shows how readily Doval’s aforementioned style and gift for melody crosses multiple genre lines. It has a strong electronic sound, though never overstated, and the elastic attributes of Doval’s vocal serve him well in this sonic environment. Considering its position as the album’s title song, it will undoubtedly draw attention and its quality can withstand the increased scrutiny.
“Imaginary Friend” is another song exploring Doval’s talent for rugged guitar work and has one of the album’s best lyrics. It’s another example, as well, of what Doval’s voice does for the album’s words – his clear skill for imbuing the words with reams of emotion sets him apart from virtually anyone in modern pop, carries on in a tradition, but never sounds imitative of his influences.
The penultimate song included on Broken, “Mi Amour”, provides another surprise for the uninitiated. Doval goes in a satisfying Latin direction with this song, but he doesn’t treat the style too reverentially. Instead, he keeps things loose and confident, never trying to deliver a purist’s vision of the form, per se, but rather one true to his own take on the style. Patrick Doval’s Broken is a big time effort from one of the most talented singer/songwriter musicians working today, no matter the strata he occupies in public consciousness. It will only burnish his already sparkling reputation and expand his audience like nothing else preceding it.
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