Searching for a store brand Sam Smith? Me neither, however if I had to give a succinct description of David Browning’s latest EP 'Now You See Me' then this how I would do it. It’s not all bad (after all Sam Smith is one of the largest names in pop music at the moment for a reason), but there is nothing about the release that is executed particularly well either. It sits in that safe in-between where the music isn’t engaging enough to draw you in, but it’s also not bad enough to be offensive to your ears.
The EP opens up with pop/dance inspired single “Stay Over”. The song spends a full minute and sixteen seconds slowly building tension, only for it to be released and the entire structure repeated a second time. If a choice like this is to work, the production needs attentive variation in the second half to keep it from becoming monotonous - something this song is clearly lacking. As a result it comes across as half a song played twice. Cliché, yet serviceable lyrics and monotone emotionless delivery further prevent the song from reaching its true potential.
“Call Me When You’re Single” starts off as a piano ballad and then becomes an oddball mishmash of electro and classical instrumentation, only to return to a piano ballad again. Rinse and repeat. With a formula like this, the track is like being caught in rush hour traffic with people who don’t know if they are coming or going. Some bizarre metaphors are thrown in for good measure which does the track no favors. You might remember lines like “remember the days back in chemistry class, when our chemicals mixed and we created a blast, and the whole school was on fire”, but not for the right reasons.
Browning saves his best track for last, with “Always Inside”. A pure power ballad complete with all the gated reverb snare you could ever wish for. It feels like this is Browning at his most comfortable both lyrically and musically. The whole track feels much more honest than those that preceded it and the vocals here have an emotional weight to them which was missing in both “Call Me When You’re Single” and “Stay Over”. It just goes to show that a pitch perfect voice with luscious timbre isn’t worth much unless you can inspire a real emotional connection to the listener.
David states he draws inspiration from personal life experiences that he has had traveling the world working in medicine, so I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that the EP’s lyrics do not draw on what must be a wealth of unique lived experiences. The potential is there, but Browning still needs to work out the finer details before he has a chance of being a serious contender in the music world.
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