Anytime it’s just one person on the stage, the music being created is going to be intimate and personal. Sometimes it’s so personal that it doesn’t bridge the gap from the stage to the floor. Fortunately, Sam Russo isn’t one of those artists. When he sings, you know it’s about his own life experiences, but it sounds like it’s coming from the “we” perspective. It’s heartfelt, raw and honest, but it’s also communal.
Back To The Party is Russo’s third full-length and comes courtesy of Red Scare Industries. While Russo plays in the punk scene and fits the bill of “acoustic punk singer”-type, his music leans a little more toward traditional folk than some others under that label. His voice is potent with strong range. He sings and his songs aren’t just punk tunes unplugged. That point stated, it’s still the we’re-all-in-this-together tone with flourishes of cynicism, anger, and longing that fuels most modern punk that I listen to. Opener “Purple Snow” establishes that tone right off the bat, with themes of friendship, reflection, and connection.
Back To The Party at its best when its vocal movements segue into earworms melodies from the heart. In “Tears,” Russo’s vocals rise and fall with emotion, paired in tandem with well-laced dynamic shifts that billow with powerful movements and whisper with soft regrets. Textured but subtle backing instrumentation adds to the overall atmosphere but it’s always really about Russo, his guitar and his voice striking that personal connection. At times, it’s more singalong and hook-based, as in “Corporeal Gloom,” which has the standout refrains that would fit on a punk bill, but they’re followed by an inward glance and shattered perspective; the mission: to put those shattered pieces back in place by the end of the record, “The Basement.”
Called back to the party, it’s not exactly a rager of a record but it does offer glimpses of positivity, the kind that people find when awakening to a bright new day after a downer of a night. It’s filled with emotion, reflection and, most important: growth. So pick up the broken pieces and get back to the party, y’all.
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