Slow Down Kid
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by T.J. Simon
On his major label debut Slow Down Kid, Val Emmich delivers the kind of popular rock that is often featured on the soundtracks to prime-time, teen-oriented soap operas. While thereís musically nothing wrong with the album, it is largely indistinguishable from the dozens of other young acts, such as Pete Yorn and Phantom Planet, who are doing the exact same thing.
Setting Emmich apart from the pack is that heís got a fantastic singing voice that can shift from a super-low moan to an impressive falsetto wail in a matter of moments, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a prime example of his striking pipes. The Rescue Squad, Emmichís backing band, is a tight and gifted bunch of musicians whose instrumentation serves to accent the raw emotion of his vocals, most notably on the hook-heavy and intelligent MTV2 single Privacy Attracts a Crowd.
Not that Emmich needs any more encouragement to share his emotions. His lyrics are gruelingly expressive snapshots of a perpetually tortured soul. From the mournful depression of Bury Me to the utter helplessness conveyed while watching a loved one die in Medical Display, he certainly knows how to communicate angst and pain, and occasionally, his sad-bastard routine manifests itself in some rather corny lyrics, such as on The Patient Patient ("My words are veins through which my lifeblood spits") and Unstable ("Iíve become so unstable/a screaming baby in a cradle").
Overall, Slow Down Kid shows that Emmich can put together a series structurally sound musical monuments that will appeal immensely to young audiences who also feel as if the world is falling apart around them. One can only pray, however, that he will use some of his major label advance money to buy some good anti-depressants before he crafts his follow-up.
Slow Down Kid is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box