CD Review of Where You Are by Kyle Vincent
Kyle Vincent: Where You Are
Recommended if you like
Eric Carmen, Parthenon Huxley, Richard X Heyman
Label
Sony Tree
Kyle Vincent:
Where You Are

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

K
yle Vincent could be considered one of rock’s great unsung heroes, a pop purist whose songs and recordings conjure up the vintage sound of the Raspberries, Big Star, Badfinger and others of that era, those whose radio-ready melodies established a template that countless retro rockers have emulated since. The problem is that while Vincent once might have made a comfortable living churning out commercial hits for both programmers and the public, nowadays his music seems sadly out of sync, an earnest, innocent sound muffled by a world of cynicism and suspicion. And in a way, he measures up to an old cliché, though clearly through no fault of his own: Like a lot of artists who remain unappreciated here at home, the guy stays surprisingly big in Japan.

The divide couldn’t be clearer than on the first entry, "It’s Gonna Be a Great Day," a tonic for troubled times that’s sunnier and more optimistic than any song in recent memory. Upbeat and effusive, it starts the album off with an upward glance that only occasionally reverses perspective. When Vincent laments lost love – as relayed on the tender, touching bittersweet ballad "Emily Standing" or the momentarily melancholy "It’s a Lonely World," the sadness seems only fleeting. Even on a song that seems to find him emotionally shattered, "The World Is Upside Down," he’s able to end on a hopeful note: "I go on believing things will be better someday."

Mostly, Vincent visits the same tender turf that he trod so frequently on his six earlier album – culled from graceful piano melodies, carefully construed arrangements (Vincent himself plays keyboards and sax) and a sentimental streak that’s unabashedly unbridled. The shimmery piano pop of "Where You Are," "Satellite," and "Goin’ Down" reveal a vulnerability that’s both endearing and engaging. Likewise, "In Another Life" provides a rousing refrain that will make anyone weaned on the sounds of the ‘70s practically squeal with nostalgia. Call it old school, call it the echo of another era, but the blend of innocence and exuberance is as affecting as it is refreshing.

Nowadays Vincent – and like-minded veterans – deserves appreciation for bucking the trends and remaining true to their pop precepts. True, maybe they’re not hip enough, not savvy enough, not as tuned into the masses as perhaps they ought to be. No matter, though; Where You Are is one of the great discoveries of this year thus far, and a reminder that a good hook can always bait those in need of a terrific tune.

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