Jarrod Gipson, known in the local scene as the drummer for Colorado’s own Nina and the Hold Tight, ventures out with a debut solo album that should excite Hold Tight fans.
Heart Eyes. Cycles. Clear Mind., out October 11, continues a similar modern, soulful pop rock sound, but he pulls his album in a mellow, electronic direction that hazes the air a bit more.
Each track fades into the next with echoes of Gipson’s voice and spacey white noise, adding an air of confusion and angst. As a singer, Gipson shows an intimate and tender side to contrast his powerful choruses – the dynamics of which may surprise fans of his forceful drumming with The Hold Tight. He exaggerates that powerful chorus/verse contrast with subtle lower harmonies or by adding distortion effects, as heard in “Clockwise” and “Taste.”
The wall of sound that characterizes much of the album is powerful and emotionally engaging. But at times all those instrumental layers are a bit too thick, lacking minimalistic moments to allow the music to breathe and the listener to process it all.
When he does give the arrangements some space, like at the end of “Fragments,” the vocals and keys give us a moment of tranquility. As a young, ambitious artist, it’s easy to want to throw every cool idea and effect out there to show your audience what you’re made of. But the best moments come when he exposes himself just a little more.
Heart Eyes. Cycles. Clear Mind. is an impressive, ambitious introduction to Gipson as a soloist, where he throws everything he’s got at us. Hopefully, he’ll continue his exploration of textures as well as refining his ideas to bring out his promising songwriting. If he does, a bright, clear path lies ahead.