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MUSIC-REVIEWS

 

Distant From the Universe - TONY CROWN

 

   

 

A compelling talent out of St. Louis, singer/songwriter Tony Crown seems like he’s penning a new line to his burgeoning success story with each week. Crown has been turning heads with the release of his debut solo LP Distant from the Universe, a 10-track delicately textured venture into his flavour of atmospheric indie rock. Since dropping in July, the album has met high praise from industry peers and is receiving prominent television placements left and right. This includes the appearance of his single “In the Now” on Showtime’s The Affair, as well as his song “Killing Machine” on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead. Among other tracks charted, the latter earned Crown the top spot on Tunefind’s weekly Top TV Music chart. Marking his third placement off of the album, Crown’s rendition of the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle” was also featured in Showtime’s acclaimed hit series Ray Donovan.

 

 

“In the Now” is a spaced out, heavily ambient, take on the alternative rock genre. It lightens rock’s weight so to speak, but maintains its resonance. The track’s dramatic orchestral-synth intro is instantly moving, floating listeners from one musical layer to another, before stripping bare to Crown’s introduction of the hook. Crown’s vocals are feather light, connecting each steadily rocking verse with fluent melody. While the song moves forwards to an upbeat stride, “In the Now” becomes its own moment through which listeners can express liberation and relief. The track comes full circle to a textured outro over a soft refrain of the chorus. Crown’s delivery shapes his words into a mantra of sorts: “And I know that I am real.” As Crown’s voice grows faint, his sense of feeling carries the weight of the track’s orchestral backing.

 

 

In contrast, “Killing Machine” shows an intensified side to Crown. Piece by piece, the intro and verses work to construct a sense of agitation. A single incessant piano note sets the tone and carries on throughout the verses. This acts like a relentless fly’s buzzing, or a worker’s nerve-induced finger tapping. It’s the sign of something or someone about to break. A jingling melody, reminiscent of a child’s music box, is layered under rallying war chants. The combination makes for an unsettling verse, eliciting fear before erupting into the rage of the chorus. This rage isn’t defined by screaming or distorted guitars, but rather shadowy ragtime piano and a steady percussive march. The aged musical references help reinforce Crown’s sinister protagonist: “You’re a good old fashioned killing machine.” The ragged piano, however, has a particularly chilling effect. A century ago ragtime piano and Crown might’ve been neighbours both growing up in St. Louis, but Crown twists the musical style into more of an unfriendly stranger. It feels like an almost sardonic nod to an old timey saloon entertainer. It makes the tale’s violence seem like a game, like it’s entertainment within itself. After the track’s recent placement in Fear the Walking Dead’s episode "Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame," this statement only appears to ring more true. 

Tony Crown imagines “Fly Like an Eagle” in its rawest form. Crown strips down the original song’s bounding rhythms and steadily streamed funk, leaving only his silky vocals and faint acoustic fingerpicking to carry the track’s sentiment. With nowhere to hide, he delivers each lyric with contemplation and patience, providing a greater sense of introspection to Miller’s grooving classic. Despite the more reflective approach, Crown’s dreamy vocal melodies accentuated by Miller’s themes of time and space make for a breezy listening experience. Underneath any great recording’s layers of production is a great song, and behind any great song is a great performance. With this bare bones cover, Tony Crown reveals the substance at the heart of both Steve Miller’s songwriting, and Crown as a performer himself. While his young music career is quickly on the rise, the release of “Fly Like an Eagle,” and its subsequent appearance in Ray Donovan, surely takes Tony Crown to new heights.

 

 

Follow Tony Crown on twitter @crown_tony  

 

 

SynchAudio inc - October 29, 2017