Chad Perrone - Release
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: April 16, 2010
There is literally no artist of Chad Perrone's relative anonymity making music half as awe-inspiringly good. As the lead singer/songwriter for defunct Boston up-and-comers Averi, he wrote one of the all-time-great pop-rock records, Drawn to Revolving Doors and since leaving the band, he has released two solo records of sterling quality (Used to Dream, Wake) both to saddeningly little fanfare. Now on his third record, Release, Perrone has put out an album that, while it may not surpass the three monumental achievements which preceded it, matches them and stands as the culmination of the wonderful, heartfelt music he has released throughout his career.
For starters, what makes this record unique in Perrone's catalog is that the despair which had crept at the edges of his damaged sincerity and passion is now front-and-center. This is a record made by a man who is beginning to feel his age in a profession full of young guns and next-big-things, a man with things he wishes he could forget and more than a few regrets. While all this might sound unpleasantly bleak, Perrone's music has always contained an embattled optimism that, with his peerless melodic sense, imbues even his most depressing songs with a sense of undeniable uplift.
This gift for melody is Perrone's signature and he certainly has the voice to deliver it. His voice is an instrument of remarkable power which he uses to maximum effect. Note how his fragile falsetto elevates "Anxious Anymore" from a mere "miss you" ballad to a tear-jerking monster of a love song. His gift for melody is evident right from the first track "OK," a song that fits easily into his tradition of driving album-openers, showcasing Perrone a bit heartbroken, a bit self-deprecating ("OK, I'm the worst thing that you know") and completely captivating. What might pleasantly surprise fans is how glistening the production is, incorporating a few new sounds like the frantic, delayed guitar line in the song's chorus. It's only the first example of how all the tricks he has learned through years of record-making come together on Release. Throughout the disc, Perrone borrows little details from pop of every era, adding new, arresting sounds and rhythms to his long-established mastery of the pop-rock form.
The melding of old and new continues on "Touch," another upbeat song with a new twist, with the chorus incorporating the slightly-dated, always-welcome synths that popped up on Averi songs like "Everything with You." He seems to acknowledge this melding of past and present when he reprises the chorus of Drawn to Revolving Doors' "Mouth Full of Sand" at the end of the song. Perrone's career-long sense of searching is also evident in the song's lyrics when he sings "I don't claim to know what I want, but I'm narrowing it down." What turns this from a basic search for meaning into something more is the heart-wrenching melody and the pitch perfect harmony vocals, pushing the song into something with just a bit higher stakes.
This tendency is Perrone's greatest strength on Release, following in the tradition of artists like Bruce Springsteen by taking universal feelings and experiences and imbuing them with undeniable passion while draping them in loving, shimmering arrangements, finally revealing a product that feels as much cinematic as musical. And no emotion is portrayed more transcendently than the doubt and despair that comes with being in his late 20's and realizing that life is not always what we were promised when we were young. The song that deals with this reality most explicitly is "Anything or Anyone," where he sings, "This is not what I planned. This is not what I was told I could have. What happened to my ending? I need to stop myself from looking back." Still, the sense of hope pervades, as in "Motionless," he sings "I'm yet to feel like I'm okay" like someone who still hopes he may someday find that peace, and in "Monster" he breaks through lyrics about insomnia and depression to defiantly declare that "this time, I'm taking my chances" with a clear sense of purpose.
As the It's a Wonderful Life reference opening "Anything or Anyone" makes clear, Perrone is also still a hopeless romantic, whatever doubts he may have. As such, he is an exquisite crafter of lovelorn and heartbroken songs, and Release contains two of his best. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with someone otherwise engaged will feel the sting of "Under Different Circumstances," where he sings over lilting mid-tempo chords and a bed of strings the universal what-if's of unrequited love and takes solace in the connection he can feel to her favorite books and songs. The other crushingly beautiful heartbreak song is the album closer "Quit You" (which plays like it could just as easily be addressed to music as to an old flame). Perrone has a history of ending records with staggeringly beautiful ballads ("Like Riding a Bike," "Goodnight Goodbye," "Keep Us Around") and he doesn't disappoint this time out either. "Quit You" wears the hints of country Chad has previously danced around proudly on its sleeve and is, in essence, a duet which follows in the footsteps of Wake's lovely "Losing Direction." The song is sad, beautiful and a perfect way to cap a perfect record.
This longwinded praise doesn't even begin to cover all the superlatives that could be attached to this record, an album with not one song that is less than stellar. Release is everything a great album should be, and an absolute certainty for this reviewer's top album of 2010.
Every record Chad Perrone releases, independently recorded and financed, feels like a small miracle. One has to wonder how much longer he can continue to release albums as an unsigned artist, but hopefully the despair in his lyrics is held at bay for at least a few more perfect records. In "So This Is How It Ends" he sings "I've got nothing to say, no more. I've got nothing to give to anyone." Hopefully this is not the case. The music world would be a much sadder, less wonderful place without Chad Perrone making music in it.
Fantastic review. I agree with pretty much everything you said. Pretty much every track on this album could be a favorite of mine, which hasn't been true of an album for me in at least a couple of years, if not longer.
My name is Lauren Bateman and I saw that you wrote a great album review of Chad Perrone's Release album. I'm a big fan of Chad myself and he has been a big inspiration in my music. I recently released my own album entitled "I've Been Waiting" and I am looking for reviewers that might be interested in taking a listen. I can send a hard copy press kit or you can visit www.sonicbids.com/laurenbateman which has downloadable mp3s of the entire album for you to listen to.
Let me know what you think and thanks for your time.