Critically-acclaimed instrumentalist Joey Curtin issues a stunning ambient ballad in her single “Chrysalis,” one of the more erudite cuts from her equally compelling LP Tigris and Euphrates. In this track, the texture of the music tells us a story that words would never be capable of articulating by themselves, and though it’s a sophisticatedly structured composition that can be broken into three distinct movements, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s inaccessible to the typical listener in the least. Joey Curtin is working with a depth of emotion that few of her peers possess, and “Chrysalis” encapsulates her unique identity wonderfully.
The piano is as soft as silk in the first part of the song, and yet as we move deeper into the track, it becomes quite obvious that its keys are capable of transmitting a brute force whenever Curtin deems it necessary. Her command over the melody is as impressive as her arrangement of the notes is; for every ebb in the rhythm, there’s a flowing harmony waiting to embrace us around the next twist or turn in the song. From a musician’s point of view, Joey Curtin is both an old school intellectual and a modern free-spirit who doesn’t care as much for the parameters set forth by her predecessors as she does evolving her songcraft.
There’s nothing rushed about “Chrysalis,” from the plodding of the piano to the delicate shaping of the synthesizers in the background, and even in the tension-building ascent of the keys that commences around the 2:14 mark, the song is patiently arranged as to exploit the melody for every drop of emotion that it’s worth. The urgency that this track yields has nothing to do with tempo and everything to do with execution; which, in and of itself, is one of the biggest attributes that Joey Curtin has going for her as an artist.
The production quality in this song is as pristine as the content that it boasts, but I would point out that it isn’t overly saturated in tech-savvy varnish. For the most part, the tonality feels really organic and natural, and to be fair, when you’ve got the songwriting skills that Curtin enjoys, you don’t really need to add a whole heck of a lot of frills from behind the soundboard. It would be interesting to see how much of her studio charisma would translate into a live performance, but until then, her growing body of work will have to satisfy our collective curiosity.
If you haven’t already heard her music, I would highly recommend getting acquainted with Joey Curtin through this incredible track, which demonstrates a mere taste of what she has to offer as a recording artist. There’s no shortage of layers for us to peel back in this stellar classical song, and if it’s on par with what we can expect out of her future output, then you had better believe that this won’t be the last time that she garners rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.
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