September 28, 2004

Sudden Ease "Trace of You"

Boston faves Sudden Ease have decided to up the ante with their third album, Trace of You. It's easy to understand why this band's selling out shows back home, too; their music is literate, intelligent alternative-pop with just a brief coat of radio polish. Throw in the fact that the band uses one of my favorite instruments--the piano--as the basis for many of their songs, and I'm instantly interested. Such a combination will make you recall Ben Folds Five and Billy Joel, and lead singer Tim Carr's croon is very much in the same vein as Jeff Buckley or Coldplay's Chris Martin. (Just take a listen to "As You Will" and you'll see what I mean.)

The problem that arises, though, is that at times Trace of You sounds too inspired by those bands. Great musicianship and great singing doesn't matter; if you're aping a band, you're aping a band, and no amount of studio polish will change that. It doesn't matter how good you are, if you can name the bands that a band is inspired by, then there's a bit of a problem. I suppose that such a sin is forgiveable, especially if you're an ambitious young band. Still, after a few years of playing out and releasing records, you should have a sound that's all your own, shouldn't you?

I'm not totally convinced their transgressions should be held against them, though, because these guys have one thing going for them: promise. While their sound may seem a tad bit affected right now, give them a little more time and I'm sure that they'll deliver a record that's truly their own, with no traces of their inspirations. Maybe I'm being a little bit cynical here, and even though I hear too many other bands in their music, songs like the pretty and sad "Easy to See" and the bitter "Separate Directions" show that they're on the right track. That's a good thing to know, because when a band's as good as Sudden Ease--and they are good--they don't deserve obscurity.

--Joseph Kyle

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