December 09, 2005

Robert Skoro "That These Things Could Be Ours"

A young man like Robert Skoro is a bit of an inspiration. Skoro started making music as a teenager, quickly rising to prominence in the Minneapolis music scene. He toured with Mason Jennings, he self-released his first album Proof, and he was named Minneapolis' Artist of the Year in 2002 and Male Vocalist of the Year in 2003. That he's done a lot in the past decade years wouldn't be nearly as impressive if it wasn't for the fact that he's only twenty-four. That his music is not at all 'trendy' makes his talent even more impressive--in an industry of phonies and hyped-up hacks, Skoro is very much a real talent.

For That These Things Could Be Ours, Skoro formed a stellar backing band, then sought out the production of the venerable Brian Deck. In the process, he wrote some really wonderful songs. With a humble singing voice that recalls Eric Matthews, Skoro and his five-piece band craft lovely, gentle pop songs that are lightly peppered with a bit of country and a bit of jazz. At times, it's hard not to think that Skoro and his band are a Y-chromosome version of Spinanes, especially on the breezy and sultry "Before the Sun," "Morning," and "Old Friend." On other songs, like "Influence" and "Boo Hoo" and "Hungry Ghost" Skoro heads straight for the sleepy-eyed child, singing gentle songs that can lull even the most stressed soul to slumber. His band contributes lovely washes of percussion, piano, and guitar, and together they create truly light and fluffy backdrop. The only time the band revs their engines is on the opening "All the Angels" and the closing "The Package," and though both numbers are excellent, they don't quite represent the rest of the album. It's okay, though, because in a roundabout way, both numbers show the beauty of restraint; sure, they could make a rattle, but when the band's mellower fare is so good, why bother?

It's easy to imagine That These Things Could Be Ours as the music you'd hear in a bookstore, a coffee shop or a quiet, candlelit bar. It's gentle, but it's not lazy; it's pretty, but it's not lightweight; it's light, but it's not shallow. It is, however, one of this year's sleeper albums. Heck, from my own personal experience, it's certainly a grower. After an initial listen a few months ago, it sat by my desk, unloved and unplayed. Last week, I put it on my stereo, and something clicked; I've listened to it several times a day, and I can see myself listening to it a lot more. And that, my friends, is what makes a great record, and that's exactly what Skoro's made. Well done!

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website:
Label Website:

No comments: