Thursday, January 26, 2012

Monte Pittman's "Pain, Love & Destiny"

*First off, I want to thank GrapeVine PR and Marguerite Barazi for allowing me to review my second free album in my short blogging career :)

     It seems that working alongside Madonna and Adam Lambert has certainly paid off for guitarist turned solo rock artist, Monte Pittman. Pittman’s second full length album, Pain, Love & Destiny, released on Oct. 3, marks the follow up to the artist’s 2009 debut. Dealing with main themes throughout such as accepting your fate and always finding a silver lining in a tough decision, the album represents a strong record that highlights impressive lyrical story telling. Recorded with funds ($65,500) provided through a campaign started on Kickstarter, the album is a collection of soft ballads and hardcore sex-fueled anthems that really embody the rock genre.
     The fourteen track album begins with “About You…”, a song that quickly shows off the hypnotizing vocals that come from Pittman. The track is a good representation at what listeners should expect from the entire project: a straight forward rock sound powered by electric guitar. It seems that even though the thought of a certain someone brings pain, Pittman cannot forget who they are. Another slow jam of love, “Lost”, gives good evidence of the fact that Pittman does have some range. You should not expect to hear the same exact song over and over again. The performance comes off a bit softer, trying to get the listener to focus on the actual lyrics that are being sung. Combine a great performance with excellent musicianship and you have yourself a hit. The album continues with “Somewhere in the Middle”, which gives the project a harder rock feel that the preceding tracks did not have. When I hear the song I am taken back to the mid-90s, a time when alternative rock was barely emerging. The track is something unique; even at the very beginning I thought I was in for a pop song. When “Fortune” comes rolling around nothing sets it apart as something different or interesting. I do commend the change in pace, Pittman’s voice is able to come through clear, but the song itself just doesn’t do the job at grabbing my attention. Instead of trying to craft his own sound, I feel this track knocks the artist a few steps back as he follows in the steps of other acts. The theme of always trying to find the small, silver lining in the darkest of times comes out clear on “Keep Shining”. The message of encouragement of perseverance is a refreshing listen. The guitar solo that comes in at the last minute of the track just amps up the finished product to a whole, new level. Overall, the track is a bright moment for the effort. The somber feel of “The Price of Fear” reinvents the sound of the album once again. The voice that is heard on the track is one that comes off comforting, the production is scaled back to really allow the performance to be the main highlight. Looking into a mirror and not realizing the person staring back at you has to be the scariest feeling a person can have. The song captures that emotion. “Close Your Eyes” tells the listener to never stop dreaming as it paints the picture of a story about the light of life burning out. The song embodies the alternative rock genre at times and I cannot help but recall The Foo Fighters and their harder track, “Best of You”. The musicianship plays an important role on the track; it gives it that needed something extra.
     The second half of the album has “(I Am) The Black Rabbit”, one of the longest tracks off the album, drawing listeners back in with its dark mood. The song, said to be inspired by the novel, Watership Down, is all about letting the inevitable happen. The vocals do convey a somber feeling and the soaring guitar solo in the middle is beyond impressive, but I felt six minutes was a little more than what the track needed to be. Meeting the devil in the flesh and having a guilty trial in “Definitely” seem to be used as metaphors to refer to the point of being unable to go on. Pittman is letting go of all regrets as he gives a simple performance that warrants a successful solo career. The song may not be the greatest moment on the project, but I can still see it as an ode to traditional rock. Pittman is begging for his love to back in “Stay With Me”, a beautiful ballad-esque track that any person in a relationship can relate to. The track could make a big impression on the radio airwaves if it ever gets the opportunity. The song seems true and personal, and once you hear the entire thing then you will have no doubt that the artist wrote some autobiographical lyrics. “Right Back Here Again” follows, but after an interesting and intriguing intro, the song just falls from there. At this point I feel like I have heard the same track a couple of times, and only a few guitar riffs throughout set it apart from the preceding tracks. Besides the guitar solo there is nothing that I found enjoyable about the piece; I was a bit bored. The artist warns that you will never love again once it is gone on “Outside the Box”. The artist is stuck in the same spot, hurting. The material being sung is truly top notch, some of the best featured on the album in my opinion, but I think we a bit more time and production it could have been something even more spectacular. Classify as a song that did not reach full potential. The eight-minute “Burn Down the Garden” breathes life into the one note second half of the album. I quickly noticed a tougher vibe that included louder vocals, faster guitar and more attitude. I would like to hear this track live because I feel that it would come alive even more. There may be a long space without any actual singing, but I will let that slide for now. Finally the album closes with the intimate ballad, “Predetermined Destiny”. The piano-driven intro is soothing and almost storybook-like, a quality that caught me off guard. The vocals are soft and innocent, everything is kept very basic and here it works. Every hardcore rock star needs their moment of vulnerability and this seems to be Pittman’s moment. A great way to close a unique and diverse collection.
     Pain, Love & Destiny is an effort that brings the rock genre back onto its feet. Throughout the diverse track listing, comparisons to The Foo Fighters and even Evanescence can be found when referring to vocal ability and songwriting. The rock genre does not always grab my full attention, and here Pittman did not always have the strong convincing to keep it, but some brilliant moments were sprinkled throughout. The first half of the album is a strong mix of up-tempo and soft rock moments, but the second half seems to be jumbled into one and doesn’t really shine again until the end. A very impressive project from an artist known just for his guitar playing. The album receives an 82%.

Tracks to Hear: “Lost”, “Keep Shining”, and “Stay With Me”


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