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Monday, May 8, 2017

Jerad Finck - New Kids (2017)

Photo by Michael Sparks Keegan
Written by Shannon Cowden

Jerad Finck’s rapid emergence as a vocal and songwriting force in the modern indie scene virtually assures that any obscurity Finck continues to experience will be short lived. His latest release “New Kids” finds him evolving as a songwriter and performer in impressive ways. Much of the responsibility for this development, naturally, should be laid at the feet of the experience he’s garnered playing alongside marquee acts like Cracker, Daughtry, Sister Hazel, and Parachute, as well as many others. The new song is the next collaboration between Finck and writer/producer Denny White – it produces memorable results. White enhances Finck’s musical depths, but it all begins with Finck’s writing and performing acumen. His upbringing pursuing jazz in a serious way put down the foundation for him to excel as a pop performer – there’s nothing here that’s a shortcut, no pandering, and instead Finck connects with musical textures and songwriting that should strike a resonant note with a wide audience.

There’s a fair amount of instrumental effects present in the song. Much of the playing is surrounded with an appealing and atmospheric echo that never risks self indulgence – instead, it sets up a nice cinematic landscape for Finck’s songwriting. He has equal parts finesse and passion in his voice. The finesse comes through in how Finck never pushes too hard on the listener and maintains just the right amount of distance while still engaging the listener. The passion finds its mark with the phrasing he employs. Some words are stretched out, elongated, while he stresses certain passages in an idiosyncratic way that he can claim as a personal style. Men and women born with the natural physical talents necessary to carry a tune are one thing, but few among those so blessed can claim, even after years of study and performance, that they ever possess a style uniquely their own. Finck can certainly do so.

The lyrics have a measured intelligence not common in the pop world and Finck has a strong focus with the writing that ensures there’s no excessive verbiage. It’s an ideal fit for the song’s length, as well, and there’s a keen eared balance between singing and music that not all songs of this stripe achieve. There are an assortment of talented musicians working their magic on “New Kids”, but the song is notable in  how it serves the right intentions by fixing on the goal of communicating with the listener rather than impressing them with showy displays of virtuosity. It is unfortunate, in our modern era, that pop music like this has become increasingly scarce. Jerad Finck is a reminder of the sort of power the best pop can contain and serves notice that not everything boils down to the lowest common denominator – instead, songs like “New Kids” speaks to the artist’s experiences with the hope that an extensive cross section of the buying public will respond in kind.

Grade: A

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