CD REVIEW: Christopher Sia - The Brink
By Cyrus Rhodes - 05/14/2012 - 06:11 PM EDT
Artist: Christopher Sia
Album: The Brink
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: Uncle Kracker, Kid Rock, Radiohead, Elliot Smith
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: The Walking Wounded, Save Yourself for Me, The Brink
Weakness: Amateur Mix, Winded Songs, Marketability
Virginia based singer/songwriter Christopher Sia just released his latest CD entitled The Brink in 2012. Sia’s sound has been described as: Pop, Acoustic, and Electronica all coexist but disagree on rank – featuring crisp, intriguing melody with bold accompaniment. According to Sia: "music is expression, obsession, and a catharsis."
The CD kicks things off with “Brandywine” a mesmerizing melody that serves up well placed harmonies, inviting 70’s psychedelic flair and heartfelt vocals from Sia. Track 2 “Save Yourself for Me” shifts gears a bit delivering driving rock rhythm, a hypnotic vocal delivery and thought provoking lyrical content from Sia. Track 3 “The Walking Wounded” methodically slithers across your ears and peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition with it’s infectious groove and amazing feel. It’s quite impressive how well Sia makes these songs his own, with his effective harmonies and infectious vocal timber. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Radiohead, Uncle Kracker, Calexico, Elliot Smith and even Kid Rock. The CD offers a rich melodic and solid vocal foundation. I would classify this music as rock, pop with a vintage 70’s psychedelic rock aftertaste. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will also notice lush vocal harmonies from his wife Cate, some impressive guitar licks, and a plethora of impressive sonic sound effects layered along the way. Sia’s voice works well within the catalog and is in the vein of Thom Yorke (Radiohead) with perhaps a splash of Jeff Buckley. I might add Sia takes some very impressive vocal risks along the way indicating to me a strong and confident vocal ability. I didn’t fail to notice a few well-placed falsettos along the way either. From compelling “Say It” to thought provoking “Level and Clear” to hard hitting title track and melodic “Until the World Falls” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Abandon” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s fair to say the overall production quality (mixing) seems to be somewhat erratic, amateurish and a bit all over the place. Looking at the liner notes it does not indicate who the Mixer is. Bottom Line - It takes skill and engineering savvy to mix a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall marketability cannot be overstated. If this was 1989 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2012, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Sia. Given the talent factor of Sia and the scope of his songwriting craft, amazing vocal performances - it’s a bit unfortunate and unorthodox. If this review seems lopsided it’s merely a reflection to the extremes presented on “The Brink.” All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I full realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability.
In close “The Brink” is a fascinating and compelling musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – its amazing musical flow and amazing vocal presence from Christopher Sia. The music is extremely melodic, passionate, and powerful. The songs are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Last but not least Christopher Sia has an amazing voice and is a capable songwriter and performer. If I could say anything to Sia right now – it would be to surround yourself with world class Mixer that can do your music proper justice. Thus giving your audience a musical production they so rightfully deserve.
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