Divinely decadent but somehow comprised of only a guitar, piano and vocal, the harmony that shapes the narrative in Daniel Tortoledo’s “You Can’t Have It All” is the bread and butter of the track, but more importantly, it’s a pretty strong taste of what you can expect to find out of all nine songs included on Tortoledo’s Through out These Years LP. Released last year and finding a second life in 2020, Through out These Years has the feel of a retrospective anthology disc more than it does a debut from an ambitious rookie singer/songwriter, but it’s qualities this like this one that allude to the skill of its creator. He’s got a lot of unexploited talent here, and it’s being put to use in ways that the Americana revival in the underground could really benefit from.
Tonal expressiveness is essentially what makes “Not Too Late,” the segue piece “Intermission,” the title track and the music video for “Dark Times (Brothers and Sisters)” sound as moody as they ultimately do, and by my math, it’s a cornerstone of Tortoledo’s composing technique period. There’s a lot of self-control in Through out These Years both lyrically and instrumentally, but when it comes to putting his emotions on paper, there isn’t anything powerful enough in this master mix to come between the artist and his audience. He’s a man on a mission, and he’s pulling out the stops in this tracklist to see that his goals are met expeditiously and with an evocative edginess.
I usually would prefer a little more oomph to the percussion in songs like the 60’s-esque “Bottle of Wine” and surreally cosmopolitan “Spare Time,” but the grooves are debatably as vocal-driven as they are drum-born in both of these songs. Every artist approaches the physicality of a beat with a different perspective on what its role is supposed to be, but I like the balanced take that Tortoledo is sharing with us in Through out These Years. It’s as if he either can’t make up his mind on rhythmic excess or he simply doesn’t want to – in either case, his indecisiveness of this one issue exclusively yields a loving anxiousness in the music that only makes his sound more relatable to the masses.
While I just found out about Daniel Tortoledo this August, I haven’t any doubt that he’s going to be reappearing in the headlines a lot more often as long as he keeps producing music as engrossing as Through out These Years is. It might have taken a minute for this LP to find a home with alternative fans around the globe, but now that it’s starting to build up a little momentum for its leading man, I think it would be wise for Tortoledo to get back into the studio as soon as possible. He’s got a few different concepts that can be expounded in his next effort, and with all of the talent coming through his scene, it’s probably best for him to follow this artistic trajectory before it burns out altogether.