The 2020s have been an era rife with throwbacks in rock music, but while Diane & The Gentle Men’s “Walk with Me” has a neo-chic characteristic that might lead some journalists to lump the crew in with retro culture, I think their style is just a bit more complex than that. “Walk with Me,” just like the album it takes its name from, mixes past and present influences alike while skewing basic, black-and-white beats with a stutter-step guitar part and supple vocal harmonies, which is a blueprint I don’t believe I’ve heard of any other band using in 2023.
I fell in love with the bassline right from the moment that I heard this single for the first time, and once you’ve zeroed in on its intricacies, I think you’re going to understand why I did. The bass is an agent of seduction in “Walk with Me;” while the guitar and vocal parts hammer away at us in front, it creates an ominous wall of sound in the background that eventually envelops everything here in a warm, vinyl-esque depth of tonality. It’s the backbone of the song and an integral element of its appeal. The instrumental end of this single is amazing, but in terms of what gets me excited in “Walk with Me,” it’s the relationship that The Gentle Men have with Diane Gentile.
Here, there is nothing to come between her velvety harmonies and the occasionally meandering melodies that the guitar and bass angrily punch out, and we’re not only given a front-row seat to the ensuing sonic violence but we’re invited to engage with it. “Walk with Me” is danceable, but even stranger yet, it possesses several channels through which it conveys deep emotional statements that one wouldn’t expect to hear coming from a contemporary rock group.
As fun as all of the different components of this composition are, there’s simply no getting around what the real feature is here – the one and only Diane Gentile. Gentile proves herself to be the undisputed boss of this outfit in “Walk with Me” not by forcing an aggressive verse down our throats, but by gentling caressing an approachable vocal melody that turns icy-cold on us without warning, as though she were referencing the very nature of love itself with nothing more than the natural timbre of her voice. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a lot of really awesome music this July, but I would be lying if I said that Diane & The Gentle Men’s “Walk with Me” didn’t stand out as one of the best of the bunch.
They’ve got a sound that is all their own, and if this latest release manages to get just a sliver more attention than what the competition is doing, I think that they’ll have a good shot at attaining some of the fame and fortune that has eluded their rivals for many years now. Either way, this is a solid release for those who follow the American underground through and through.
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