Natural tones and vivacious beats run head-on into the synthetic walls, leaving a trail of colorful sonic debris in their wake. The guitars are monstrous, the melodies they create all the more venomous – especially in the circumstances forged by “I Am 2,” “Leaving It Up To You” and “Belly of the Beast.” The title track in Passionate Presence pummels the audience with weighty musicality, but it’s no more overwhelming an effect than what we discover when following the ethereal harmonies of “No End In Sight,” “Time Stands Still” and “We Can’t Connect” back to their point of origin. Keeping it simple would appear to be Anthony Rufo’s philosophy in this new album bearing his moniker in the byline, and in the age of over-complication, Passionate Presence is exactly the sort of gem we could use now more than ever. Rufo doesn’t play the same old pop/rock games that a lot of his closest contemporaries in the mainstream would be more than happy to create an entire album around here; he’s got too much he wants to impart to listeners for that to be his creative route of choice.
ABOUT ANTHONY RUFO: https://anthonyrufo.com/
“Empty,” “Advent,” “Leaving It Up To You” and “No End In Sight” have surprisingly potent lyrical setups, but even at their most poetically stimulating, they feel like guitar showcases (as do all of the most memorable songs on the LP). The string play is more than captivating even when it’s sharing the spotlight with a compelling beat (“I Am 2”) or vocal harmonies that could light up even the gloomiest of afternoons (“Eagles Fly”). The drums didn’t need quite as much polish as they were afforded in “E.G.A.H.I.M.P.,” “We Can’t Connect” or “Time Stands Still,” but at the same time, the contrast this ultimately yields in the mix almost justifies the means in this scenario. I absolutely love the jazz underpinnings that we find interspersed throughout almost all of this material, and in the future, I think it would be really fun for Anthony Rufo to consider making a complete album centered on the notion of expanding this side of his artistry.
There are a lot of provocative crossover indie players in the game at the moment, but in my opinion, the rare cocktail of influences that Anthony Rufo has to offer the world in Passionate Presence is second to none. Passionate Presence isn’t a flawless effort, nor does it feel like the watershed release that would alter the course of rock history as we’ve come to know it in the 21st century. Instead, this gives us a look at an Anthony Rufo who hasn’t reached his prime yet; there’s still room for growth on his end, but here, he proves that he can roll with some of the biggest, baddest and best guitar-slingers in the business right now. He’s got the right concept in this album, and with a little more time to cultivate his craft in the proper fashion, he’s going to be seeing even more success than he has in recent weeks.
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