Live At The Tin Angel
Independent release, 2006
REVIEW BY: Melanie Love
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/27/2007
Live At The Tin Angel starts off with “Gabrielle,” a slow-burning, soulful number replete with gorgeously evocative lyrics and sparse instrumentation to allow Justin’s smooth vocals to take center stage. To the muted plucking of an acoustic guitar, he warmly croons, “The droplets upon her face / As they roll down to her neck / She prays under the night's sky / While it’s pouring rain… Gabrielle, you could stop rainfall / But the dark clouds, you haven't learned to push them away / You will someday,” such subdued elegance making “Gabrielle” one of the EP’s strongest offerings.
“What A Woman Should Be” has Justin playing to the ladies, but thankfully with less overt cheesiness than, say, the majority of James Blunt’s catalogue or “Your Body Is A Wonderland.” Like “Gabrielle,” this track is stripped bare to sidelining accents of acoustic guitar and bass which allows such standout lines as “At times the world will spin and create a frequency / If it happens to clash with the song we sing / I promise I will keep our song in key” to constitute the bones of the song. My only caveat with “What A Woman Should Be” is the lyric “You please my funny bone, you intellectual / And you’re sexy more than you know” which toes a little too close to the line of corniness.
“If I Could Fly Through The Stars” serves up fare similar to “What A Woman Should Be” as a starry-eyed narrator expounds on the boundlessness of his love, boldly announcing that “The stars may shine / The moon’s dust may be fine / But not Saturn's rings or the Milky Way compares to you.” Solid, if not earth-shattering, “Stars” is still worth a spin.
Before settling too comfortably into a pattern of relationship musings, Tin Angel shifts to consider the current state of the world on “And So It Goes.” Ultimately, though, in trying to take on everything from war and religion to sexuality, the track bites off more than it can chew, and its cause isn’t helped much by lines like “I may not know a lot about sexuality / But gorgeous is the female anatomy / And in the world today, people have the right to be gay / You can't change peoples' biology,” which, though laudable in its sentiment, is entirely too blunt to make the impact it intends.Fortunately, the relative cringe-worthiness of “And So It Goes” is overshadowed by the EP’s closer, “Holy Ghost”; trading in the broad sentiment of its predecessor, this track instead boasts stunningly detailed imagery such as “He wipes the blood from his eye / And a tear replaces the red / The soldier says as he lay there for dead, ‘I've never had the urge to live more.’” Simultaneously heartbreaking and breathtaking, “Holy Ghost” may not have gloss or frills, but it nevertheless packs more of a punch than all the slick production in the world.
More than just an ideal way to while away 15 minutes, Live at the Tin Angel is a mature and resonant debut from an artist with obvious potential. Already lighting up the Philadelphia circuit, Kyle Justin is definitely one to put on your musical radar.
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