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  I'll Be Here Awake  
  Arthur Yoria  
  12 Records  
Release Date:
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Arthur Yoria is based in Houston, Texas. After having been in bands for a number of years, he apparently decided to strike out on his own and record an ostensibly solo album with I'll Be Here Awake. However, although the album was released under his own moniker, it is not typical singer-songwriter fare. Rather, Yoria has created a slightly psychedelic, vaguely rock album with a full backing band.

I'll Be Here Awake begins with the title track, which has distorted guitars, vocoder-ed vocals, and automated drumming. It's slight and poppy and jangly all at the same time. The slightness I mention seems to come out of the drumming, which sounds programmed and very light in comparison to the other instruments. Nevertheless, it's a good little song that left me wanting to hear more.

This rock tone continues on the next song, called Permanent. On this one, the drums sound fuller and more focused, which acts as a nice counterpoint to the guitars and keyboards. However, at this point, I began notice that Yoria's vocals are recorded way up front in the mix. While he has a good enough voice to sustain this practice, I find that I like his voice more lost in the mix, if only because things sound more balanced that way.

From there we move on to Call Me and Here to Stay, both of which are slower and softer than the previous tracks. Although each song seems nice enough, the relative softness causes Yoria's vocals to carry the weight of the music. And, as I said previously, his voice is nice enough to do this, especially in his upper range. However, I do find that his more mellow music isn't as compelling as the more rock stuff, because the musical structure isn't all that interesting. In short, all you have is his crooning voice, and that's not enough to keep my focus.

Yoria moves back towards his slightly psychedelic side with Sleep is on the Way, which sounds vaguely like The Possibilities, albeit without the backing harmony. Then comes She Looks Like You, which is perhaps the best track on the album. It begins softly, but then shakes out into full instrumentation during the chorus. On this song in particular, Yoria's slightly breathy voice gets lost in the full levels of guitar distortion, and I can see how this song could get lots of airplay. It's catchy and easy to follow, but with enough contrasting instrumentation, including a nice synth line, to keep interest.

After that high point, it's hard for the rest of I'll Be Here Awake to measure up. P.S.A. is another slower song with keyboards that sounds almost like something by The Ben Folds Five. In contrast, I'll Pretend harkens back to the earlier rock tracks, although I didn't find anything in it to differentiate it from, say, Permanent.

And then there's the next to last song, the almost nine minute tour de force, Sevilla. It begins with a slightly strummed guitar, ala Nirvana's Lithium, but then quickly moves into a Spanish style guitar with very light electronic backing. Then, at a little after one minute, the song becomes more of a rock ballad with swelling guitars and vocals. And throughout, the song swings between the two musical styles before adding yet another style about halfway through. This one blends the rock elements with a jazz guitar motif into one long musical interlude before, at the very end, Yoria comes in to sing again. Sevilla comes across as somewhat disjointed, as if two (or perhaps three) songs were joined together, somewhat unsuccessfully.

But then the album finally ends with At Least You've Been Told, which harkens back to the electronic beats and distorted guitars of I'll Be Here Awake. As an almost reprise of that first song, it ends the album solidly on a high note.

In my opinion, Yoria needs to work on a unification of his sound. From what I can tell on I'll Be Here Awake, the basics are all there, although he can't tell if he wants to be an alternative crooner or a slightly psychedelic rock act. In general, I like it when an artist tries to branch, but the two divergent courses Yoria explores end up leaving the album with something of a dual personality. Still, either way he decides to turn in the future, I suspect it will at the least be worth a listen or two.

Related Links:

The Arthur Yoria homepage.


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