Written By: Victor Alfieri
Label: MRI – Rating:
In the world of guitar-toting songwriters, sometimes they all start to sound the same. When that song comes on the radio, or in your local trendy outlet store, you know the song, but can never place the singer. Chris Ayer is different and he has the award to prove it. A winner of the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Award, he has proven he has the ability to differentiate himself from the pack. With Don’t Go Back To Sleep he is on his way to showing it.
Ayer, originally born in Virginia, started writing songs while attending Stanford University. He now is immersed in the New York City scene. His second full length release, off of Another Record Company, offers 13 tracks of strong songwriting and lyrics. He mixes up his style from song to song, giving the listener a chance to truly let this album open up as they take it in. Whether straight pop, ballad or rock, nothing seems out of place.
As with many of these musicians, the comparisons will start flying. The following are just to give you an idea of the range. The first track, “Opening,” is reminiscent of Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson. It has a purely positive message and has a slight “beach” feel to it. “Lost+Found” and “Let Go,” both strong tracks, sound like Vertical Horizon, another recent review at CWG.
“Awake,” one of the best tracks on the album conjures images of a young James Taylor. “Pretty Poison Things,” about a girl in a food court, “This is a Test” and “Roy G. Biv” are both whimsical and poignant with uncanny ability to get your feet tapping.
Not every song is a winner, but there isn’t an actual “bad” song here. Mr. Ayer has considerable talents that are showcased very well. Through multiple listens, what the listener will notice is the layers. The strong lyric may grab you the first time. The melodies will jump out next. Maybe it’s a specific piece of instrumentation; the quiet banjo here, the understated slide guitar there.
After hearing this album, it has certainly sparked an interest in hearing this artist’s earlier stuff and anticipation in seeing how Chris Ayer will mature over time. One thing is for sure, it will take a few days before this album get out of my head.