Music Review: Awake and Pretty Much Sober
I'm not sure when I first heard Violents, the musical endeavor of Jeremey Larson. Larson has produced a number of EPs, each with a different female vocalist, that have ranged from good to amazing. So I was excited to see that the first full-length Violents album had been released a couple months back.
Going into the album, I was expecting a blues-pop-ish female vocalist. Nothing could prepare me for the vocals of Monica Martin. Sultry and smooth, her vocals are ever a part of the dynamism of Awake and Pretty Much Sober. While past Violents tracks have moved between blues and house beats, this album consists in mostly slow jams. My first listen left me a little disgruntled—this was not the full-length album I was expecting. It would be a couple days before my second listen and this album is now hooked to me like an IV drip.
I am notoriously not actively cognizant of lyrics. But the slowed down, and beautifully tempo pacing, of the lyrics on this album, just hit home every single listen. With an album title of Awake and Pretty Much Sober, I shouldn't have been surprised by the dark and haunting music, but it never comes close to topping the deep loneliness of the lyrics. They work together in a perfect tandem. The effect of the lyrics is somehow ramped up by the smoky voice of Martin. I can honestly say this album would not be as great without her giving voice to these lyrics.
Songs such (the title track) "Awake and Pretty Much Sober," "Hue," and "How It Left" still have the occasional upbeat house vibe (typically at the start of the track). Moments of roaring strings also accompany some of the more lively songs. Simple songs like "Line Lie" highlight the genuine of Larson's minimalist piano throughout the album as well as the brooding lyrics:
We're in my room, between the sheets
And evil there will need to be reckoned
There is no love, there's no mystique
And every kiss an act of aggression - "Line Lie"
"Unraveling" is a gorgeous song with some of the weightiest lyrics. Martin's voice and delivery shine in the lyrical pacing. Everything just clicks making this one of the standout tracks. As a lover of slow music, the big competitors for best track are the slow brooding tracks like "Unraveling," "Sparks," or "Fair" :
I'm sinking ships, lips are loose
I can cope any way I choose
And I have not cried in three whole days
That was back in my sober phase - "Unraveling"
Everything unique in me
Is everything you said would need some shaping up
Or sorting out
But there's a spark I had to hide
Hidden right behind the eyes
You'll never see, that part of me - "Sparks"
Give me closure, give me stone cold composure
Just pretend it's real, don't tell me how it feels
In twenty years you'll sit alone inside your home
And wonder how he left, and how could you forget? - "Fair"
In conclusion, Awake and Pretty Much Sober has the profile of an album I will be enjoying for a long time. The final haunting track "It Won't Stop" calls you to start the album all over again. Only time will tell how long I'm addicted to this album.