I was asked a few weeks ago to review a song released by Santa Barbara songwriter Conner Cherland called The Choices of John Still. It was supposed to be up last week, but my WordPress account has been acting up; I wasn’t able to log in, then it’d randomly close and not save drafts, so this is my third time writing this and trying to publish it.
Excuses aside, on with the review.
First of all, I’m a fan of the song. At first I didn’t know where it sat with me: to me, it sounded like something that fitted on Catfish- not a bad thing, but it reminded me heavily of that. I didn’t know what i thought of it because it’s a song that makes you think, and I’m still in a place where I’m not 100% sure what it’s about or meanings with it and I think songs that really make you think can make you uncomfortable. That being said, there was a rawness to it, which is the one thing I did like through the whole thing even when I wasn’t sure of I liked the song or not.
I see the work that goes into making music, I see the process because I’ve dabbled in the industry, my dad is in the industry and my brother is. I see the work that bands put in, so when you’re a solo artists with little backing and collaborating with others, I am always in awe of the work ethic you have and the skills you have to have. Even in a band it’s difficult, so collaborating with someone is harder; usually, there’s not that instant connection and bouncing off eachother.
The whole song does work together well. It all fits and there’s no random wailing or gospel that is out of place (looking @ you Imagine Dragons) and there’s nothing out of time. There’s no slip ups, everything works well and is played well.
The guitar in the beginning and until the ‘climax’ of the song was calming and soothing. It almost reminded me of Never Think by Robert Pattinson (another compliment, I love that song), and I think that if the entire song was stripped back for a live performance or something with that kind of tone it’d hit harder and created more of an impact because it would rely completely on the vocals and lyrics to carry it. That being said, it’s skilfully played and fits with the tone of the song, there’s nothing out of place, it works. It’s laid back even when it strays from the soothing elements as the song is ending and it reaches the key change (though not a boyband key change, you get what I mean).
Leading on from that, the lyrics: hands down my favourite part of the song because of the emotion and the story they tell. “In the everlasting tapestry, a thread removes so we could choose this life” was a line that I loved from the first verse. To me, I think it reminds me that some things are going to change and will effect the past, and we can destroy something so easily through our decisons. It reminds me a lot of fate and how we create our own fate in a way, and it caught my attention. To me, as we know, I’m a lyricist and bassist (and I sing but we’re not going into that) so when it comes to reviews, that’s what I hone in on and I was stunned by the lyrics throughout. The chorus of “Don’t you question my motives, dear I loved you more than I could stand, the pheromones will work again…” made me think. There’s a lot of ways people can interpret the song, and to me, it feels like the loss of a love and almost experimenting with love and heartbreak and going through loss of a relationship. Are the same time, I feel tones of almost insanity and abuse: “The toxins they smelled when chemicals rose, it infected their brains in ways no one could know” reminds me of again, experiments with love and a comparison of love and science, but also being driven to insanity. It’s a dark song when you look into it and read into it, not just a acoustic, indie, dramatic song.
But hey, that’s my personal interpretation, who knows if I’m right?
The vocals have a little grit in them and so much emotion that you feel what the person is saying. I would say that they can occasionally be drowned out a little by the music, but the vulnerability to the vocals shines clear. That’s something that I actually can’t go into, you’d have to listen to understand where I’m coming from. They’re filled with heartbreak and confusion and pain and it’s something that you can’t ignore even in the times where they are more drowned out and it’s haunting in a way.
The one thing I’d be critical on is the mixing and editing; I can’t be overly critical because I’m not great at it, my dad and brother are the mixers of the family, but in parts the music drowns out the vocals. But, for somebody doing it all themselves and for somebody with little/no backing, it’s still great. For me, I like the rawness of it and the effect it gives, but I know a lot of music buffs who’d slam people for it, so if going a commercial route, that’d be where I’d be a little more critical.
I imagine this song being in a film soundtrack (or on Catfish which is just as good) and I wonder why they’ve not been noticed or picked up before now. The song is incredible and there’s a lot to it- I’ve heard it not multiple times to write this review and I still haven’t gotten my head around it completely or figured everything out, which I think it good; it leaves it open to interpretation.
I’ll leave the link to his YouTube, Spotify as well as his Instagram. Please go show some love and support, this is something incredible and art to me. The fact there’s so much to it and so much effort has gone into it amazes me and I understand how hard it is (why I do these reviews).
Stay safe and stay happy, Angels!