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It’s Just Craig – Dark Corners – Album Review

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Pulling in a cast of great musicians Craig Helmreich makes more than the sum of his cast on his new release as It’s Just Craig. Slowly revealing¬† a deeper complexity as the record goes on, he crafts a record that rewards you as you go.

Through disintegrating lo-fi piano, “Intro” starts the record off with much more stirring sadness than you’d think possible of some simple piano chords. The way each notes seems to be tattered and at an end accentuates just how heartfelt each note is. ¬†With tone’s of Fun’s anthem-pop, “Go” has an instantly catchy hook to its melody that you can’t shake loose, and it’s building instrumentation will take your emotions for a spin. Along with being a tight and smartly crafted track on the whole, it would be nearly perfect if the vocals were produced to feel less separated from the band.

Between twinkling piano lines and blown out hums of distortion, “Alone” is a beaten down track that straddles the pain and peace at being on your own. The slide guitars up this tone a lot as the rest of the instrumentation blends in with it to create music that says even more than the words themselves. “Captain” beats along with a weird sense of dread, as we only get half the story on a pair that are too far apart. While a little sappy and simple, it’s the harmonies of the split couple that make the song work.

“Siren Sings” goes into a much more heavy organ, taking on more alt-rock tones, recalling Broken Social Scene to a minor degree. Making strong and sonically powerful use of the organ, the sounds slowly evolve on this track as the drums go wild, making for a truly exciting listen. Shifting to solemn fast jazz beat on “Goodnight” there’s a dark coolness about the more reserved instrumentation. It’s as the synths start to wail off in the background that Helmreich’s colourful mind really shines through.

Letting the bass take the wheel on “Rain Never Came” Helmreich slow-burns his sad lament for his lost chance to be cleansed. Taking the instrumentation in sparse bursts you really get a sense of raw emotion on all sides as guitars and pianos cascade of each other in what sounds almost like a conversation. Along twisting slide guitars, “Leaving Now” has a strangely demented tone that makes its worn out lyrics feel all the more real, and man are they ever defeated.

Taking the rare opportunity for a hidden track, “Thirty-Nine” has a warm love in its guitars, and the mix of vibraphones and loose piano feel oddly intimate. Feeling like a personal show from a circle of loving musicians, the sound on this track puts you in the room with Helmreich and his band so you can feel the love yourself.

Dark Corners ironically hides nothing in its varied and evolving composition, as Helmreich brings a tight and clever sensibility to his writing by never overstaying his welcome. While some vocal production issues separate the vocals too much on some tracks, the overall instrumentation and building of the band throughout the songs make it easy to ignore this.

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