Sean Nicholas - Savage (Track by Track)

Described as “a singer songwriter, madcap philosopher, and all-around scene-pillar in the particular freak-flying-flag sector of the Canadan music community” – Sean Nicholas Savage is certainly one of the more interesting figures in the music industry. A prolific member of the Montreal DIY scene (which gave us the likes of Grimes, Majical Cloudz and Blue Hawaii to name but a few), Savage has an output which is far quicker than most musicians, releasing 9 albums in the past 4 years. If that wasn’t enough, his previous album garnered approval from the likes of Solange and he has recently performed at New York Fashion week. Needless to say, expectations were high. Here, we go through his latest album ‘Bermuda Waterfall’ track by track.

If Blood Orange and Majical Cloudz were to spend a wild night of passion together, this track would be their lovechild. Immediately you’re transported to a warm beach somewhere – you can almost taste the pina colada on your tongue. It has a kind of jazz-like vibe that feels very much reminiscent of Pat Martino’s famous cover of “Sunny”, too. All in all, a great track to add to your ‘SUMMER 2014’ playlist.

Sadly, this song is quite disappointing. It opens with quite a jovial sound – this is pleasing at first, but then it never really progresses from there. An unfortunate bit of filler, in comparison to the killer summer sound of Naturally.

The guitar at the beginning of this track is beautiful, and it lends itself perfectly to the accompaniment of Savage’s fragile and exposed vocals, which become choral in the mid-parts of the song. Unlike Rat the track builds up attractively – Savage’s delivery of the vocals changes at the end, his voice breaking in all the right places to weave a deeper emotional layer into the song.

This song seems to follow a similar line of thought to Naturally. It’s a catchy tune which is simultaneously exotic and mellow – another one which you should definitely add to your summer playlist.

Hangin On
The smooth guitar which serves to open this track can’t be described in any way other than ‘sexy’. When the lyrics kick in Savage commands that we “listen to the sound of [his] voice” and it’s an order we can’t help but obey – his delivery is as soothing as a lullaby.

Bermuda Waterfall
The titular track of an album is usually one of its strongest assets – however this track is one of the album’s greatest weaknesses. It doesn’t really feel like a finished track and sounds a bit like a dabble of experimentation in the studio. Parts of the track feel like they could be the foundations for a great song, but it needs to be developed further.

Just like Bermuda Waterfall this song sounds like a playful bit of messing around in the studio. The track has a really happy tone to it, but that only lasts if you don’t pay much attention to the lyrics. When you listen to the words you can hear Savage cry “If you really want it, I’m the kinda guy who will give in to misery”. The contrast between the tone and the lyrical content is a clever concept – but it hasn’t been put into practise very well.

Hands Dance
This track is a little nondescript – pretty much nothing about the track makes it stand out in the album. Its one saving grace is that it manages to keep the same sort of beachy vibe which is present in Naturally and Empire – so it doesn’t feel disjointed from the album as a whole like ‘Rat’ does.

Please Set Me free
‘Please Set Me Free’ is instantly relaxing – it opens with catchy drums and is then met with the sound of rain, a sound which then proceeds to permeate the whole track with great success. The one drawback is that (like Darkness) the relaxing music is contrasted with depressing lyrics in which Savage begs the audience “please set me free of myself”. There’s a real tension between the tone of the lyrics and the tone of the music, which needs to be reconciled in order to make this a more successful piece of music.

The song starts with an interesting tinkering of the piano, but (similarly to Rat) doesn’t sound as though it’s from the same album as the rest of the tracks. Or at least that’s the case for the opening 30 seconds of the song. As soon as this part is powered through, it returns to the relaxed pop style of the previous tracks, albeit in an unremarkable incarnation.

Some Things Never Die
The twinkly opening of this track sounds a little like opening of The Cure’s Pictures of You. It works well, giving the track a sort of dream-like quality to it. It’s a wonderfully catchy track, and a good closing piece for album.

All in all, Sean Nicholas Savage has created a good album here – but it is let down by a few of the tracks. The work seems to be a victim of one of the more common problems in the music industry –it’s not well-rounded as a whole. In places, it seems as though primacy was given to individual tracks, with less thought given to how the work would function as a completed piece. This is not to say that Bermuda Waterfall is in any way a bad album, but perhaps a little rushed, though this is not surprising given Savage’s rapid output.