Rory D’Lasnow will be around for many years to come. Nearly every aspect of his new release Songs from an Empty Room checks off the boxes you look for in musicians and songwriters with genuine staying power. The five songs reach a level of universality all but assuring a vast array of music listeners will relate to the songs yet never feel like anything less than an intensely personal statement. It’s rather jaw-dropping to note how far D’Lasnow’s songwriting has progressed in a relatively short amount of time but all the more impressive is how he doesn’t sacrifice a shred of his integrity getting there.
You can hear his live potential on the EP’s later tracks, but the opener “Where You Belong” will play well for live audiences. Much of the reason behind this is because of the straight-forward instrumentation defining each of the EP’s five songs; D’Lasnow never weighs the songs down with needless bloat. I love how he threads guitar into this song without the playing ever falling into cliché and his skill crafting memorable but never particularly intricate melodies helps bring his music to further life.
The second song “Forgotten” makes great use of atmosphere without ever risking melodramatics. Much of the success behind efforts such as this can be lain at the feet of his voice; he doesn’t have great technical range, but his ability embodying emotion in his singing is superlative. He dials up the musical pyrotechnics for this song in an intelligent and considered fashion; there’s never any feeling of him rushing this track. EP’s are, by nature, condensed artistic statements, but D’Lasnow has a relaxed confidence throughout the five tracks.
“I Won’t Do Anything”, Songs from an Empty Room’s midway point, is one of the key songs recorded for this release. It serves as a stylistic bridge between the lighter theatrics of the first two songs and the rougher textures creeping into its concluding duo without ever sticking out like a sore thumb. The tense and wiry guitar work throughout the cut is one of its musical highlights, but D’Lasnow sings his ass off as well.
“Power of My Love” hits harder than any other song. This isn’t some all-out rocker but there’s no question D’Lasnow pushes more here than anywhere else. The drumming really ratchets up the drama without overpowering other aspects of the tune and the recording captures each player with clarity and physicality. He turns in an acoustic direction for the closing curtain. “Happy” features some lyrical harmonica playing. It’s an instrument that immediately makes listeners think blues and D’Lasnow’s song doesn’t run away from those connections. It ends Songs from an Empty Room on a low-key note.
It’s a worthwhile release. It’s hard to be specific about where Rory D’Lasnow’s talents stand at this point, but there’s no doubt that he’s far ahead of many contemporaries. Each of the EP’s five songs have something different to offer listeners and I’m more than satisfied by what the New Jersey songwriter has done here.
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