At the worst of times, music is our release, it’s where you can turn when you need to clear your head and fill it with something else. John Vasely of Secondhand Serenade and Colin Munroe have had their bad times, and are fortunately such talented performers that they can share it with us through their music.
Secondhand Serenade “A Naked Twist In My Story”
We have actually heard John’s story, back in 2008 when its sparkling, doe-eyed showcase song “Fall For You” could be heard everywhere (it got to #7 on my personal chart). But it’s one of the few happy songs on the record, coinciding of course with the start of a promising relationship that ultimately falls apart. A Naked Twist In My Story is A Twist In My Story stripped away to near-bare bones, but without the studio enhancements the story becomes a much more emotional and personal affair.
I can’t really say that “Fall For You” is improved; this version is its gritty companion. Being in a different place myself in 2012 than in 2008, the pain and sorrow of songs like “Why”, “Pretend”, and “Goodbye” is better understood and the raw performances shine through. There’s a lovely new bonus song too, “Belong To”, which doesn’t set out to be another “Fall For You” and I think is the point of hope that we all reach at a certain part of our stories. I saw Secondhand Serenade in concert three years ago. About 80% of the attendees knew the words to most of the songs that were played, and John and his band made a medium sized venue quite intimate for their fans, many of whom will be on board for this new part of the story.
A Naked Twist In My Story is an independent release that will whet your appetite for Secondhand Serenade’s fifth full album, due later this year. Buy it on iTunes and listen to a snippet of “Belong To” below.
Colin Munroe, “Unsung Hero” (mixtape)
If I’m reading the lyrics correctly (and I may not be), I’d say that Colin Munroe struck rock bottom in both professional and personal hell in the last few years. However, as strange as life turns around, we are benefitting from the results through his new record deal with Capitol/EMI and his compelling recent releases, which have landed inside his latest mixtape “Unsung Hero”. And it’s definitely a different kind of ‘unsung hero’ that we heard back in 2008 with his mixtape “Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero” or when he first appeared as a featured artist on songs by the likes of Donnis and Drake.
“Unsung Hero” doesn’t rest on one kind of style of pop music, navigating easily through accessible but cutting pop like “Over It”, the cathartic R&B hip hop of “The Fight Of My Life” and “Scars ‘N Stars”, the almost giddy “Fucking Amazing”, and the thought-provoking, deliberately paced “Your Eyes”. Colin Munroe has such talent with his craft that one shouldn’t forget that his vocals are spot on, too. And he has a bevy of friends to help him build his castle of a resolve, including Cassie, K.Flay, Pusha-T, Kendrick Lamar, Memoryhouse, and RZA. In some ways, “Unsung Hero” is also a good companion to JMSN’s †Priscilla† of earlier this year.
“Unsung Hero” may still be available for free download at some sites, but I’m not sure if that was the intent. Regardless, you can stream the entire record on Colin’s Soundcloud page below. I’d say Act II of Colin Munroe’s musical career is well-underway with a lot more ahead for us to hear.