2018 EPs/Albums

Ronald Maas – Aries (EP Review)

Ron’s been an important sideman for sometime now more than a frontman, but things have definitely changed with this new adventure. His first EP under his name, the four track EP, “Aries” is exciting and blends in all of Ron’s skills that he’s learnt so far. This doesn’t mean that he’ll stop being a sideman, he will still be honouring both positions. With his music being described as spaced out Supertramp, I couldn’t agree more.

The EP starts with a lovely song called “Too Close To See.” It’s quirky and features really clever chord changes throughout. The song topic is really interesting thought out as it could mean that sometimes, we are too blind to see what it’s front of us. It’s the famous saying that we all know. Some good things have been under our nose the whole time sometimes. The vocals are phrased in a way that it gives it more of a progressive feel to the song, creating a Porcupine Tree meets pop vibe. Vocals in any song don’t necessarily need to be powerful to get a message across and this song clearly delivers that. Ron’s vocals aren’t dynamically powerful, but they’re emotionally as he’s singing about something that he personally feels strong about. “Any of us could clearly understand it, but none of us are far enough to see” could mean that perhaps things are really easy to understand once you get your head around it, but sometimes we need to be further down the line to get the understanding understood. A wacky example of this could be; a child believing in the easer bunny, but as they grow up, they understand that it’s not real.

I’m getting Jamie Cullum vibes from the next track “Oh Darling Won’t You” with it being jazz influenced, with still the pop elements too. Contemporary pop is how I’d personally describe the pop side of Ron’s music, seeing as it’s definitely more elegant than chart pop music. It’s a sad love song which deals with suffering and gives off a “oh darling, won’t you please help me ease my pain” feel to the song. The vocal melody doesn’t change much throughout the verses which leaves it sounding more simple. I would have liked to have heard different verses sang differently. The choruses for any song should always be prominently shown to help the listeners remember, but I feel the chorus in this song isn’t as powerful as intended. Saying that, the song is still great, I just feel there could have been a lot more to it.

“Rustle in the Yard” starts off just like a normal pop track would, but then it goes to a prominent minor fall and it gives the song a whole new direction. This song has the same pop element throughout as the others have done so far, but the electric guitar in the background gives it more of a rich, jazz-blues tone to it, which is nice to hear another influence come through Ron’s music. It’s upbeat, energetic and fits nicely to the soundtrack of my day as I’m currently sat, reviewing this EP out in the garden on a sunny day, and it definitely fits the environment. I feel Ron intended the lyric “there’s a rustle in the yard” to be the hook line, but it appears to be more the lyric “you are wondering, that is what it starts with.” The intricate chord changes in this hook line really captures this major part of the song more and more each time you hear it.

The melodic and eerie piano carries throughout the same jazz/pop influence in “Lines in the Darkness” as all of the other tracks on the EP does. This is probably the best track on the whole EP purely because of the power behind it. Drawing lines in the darkness is such a clever topic to sing about because, how can we actually see lines in the darkness? Our eyes can’t adapt fully to being in the darkness. Do the lines ever end? It could be more about an endless, exhausting battle of trauma. The brass section in the song really gives it such a big sound making it have a more traditional, 1930’s jazz kind of sound to it. I really admire how Ron has done more of this EP by himself, except for the artwork, mixing, drums, trombone and trumpet. Lines in the Darkness is a really nice close to a great EP and a lovely debut for Ron’s frontman works.

Ron must be excited for the future and this EP could really put him on the map.

Favourite Tracks: Too Close To See, Rustle in the Yard, Lines in the Darkness
Score: 7/10

http://www.ronald-maas.co.uk/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKddfbxRpGfEa1deXR8y1gQ

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