In his debut album as a solo artist, Brendan Staunton establishes himself as an experimental singer/songwriter as intrigued by textural expressiveness as he is the conventional pop melody. The record’s opening salvo, “We Don’t Talk About It,” bears likeness to a vintage strain of folk-rock that some had feared gone from this earth forever, but other cuts like “Nine Day Wonder” and “Underwater” dive into much more complex compositional territories without abandoning the core harmonies that define every song here. Staunton is a troubadour and a timeless crooner in this album, and if it’s just a sample of what he can do when there aren’t any limitations in front of him, he’s going to have quite the successful career as the decade unfolds.
Both the ballads and the more upbeat tracks on Last of the Light have a lot of unfiltered emotionality, but I would stop short of saying that every song on the record is saturated with a lot of introspection on the part of Brendan Staunton. “Smiled,” “River” and “A Girl” are incredibly multi-interpretive, and though it’s clear that he’s putting a lot of his own personality into the material in this LP, I don’t get the feeling that any of this was meant to be deliberately confessional. Last of the Light is definitely revealing a lot about its composer to us within these harmonies and the lyrics they convey unto us, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that it’s little more than a glimpse into what’s still to come for this singer/songwriter.
Instrumentally speaking, “A Moment,” “Stop Believing” and “We Don’t Talk About It” suggest a progressive influence in Staunton’s work that could be worth expanding on in the future. This isn’t to say that Last of the Light has the feel of a concept album, but I will note that it seems as though it could have been were there just a couple of tweaks made to the tracklist. “A Moment” is particularly commentarial, while “Stop Believing” and even “Mean to You” make allusions to dreamy poetic narratives that could be taken as secular preaching from certain angles. I love the possibilities this guy is showing us here, and in his next effort I think we’re going to see a deeper sense of intellectualism make itself obvious in his work.
DOWNLOAD THE ALBUM: www.brentropic.com/about/
I only just recently heard about Brendan Staunton and his new album for the first time, but there’s a promising bend to his songwriting that has the potential to take him places in today’s unpredictable underground. American pop/rock, specifically in the folkier subgenres, has been leaving a lot to be desired in the last year or two, but with singer/songwriters like this one finding their way into the spotlight, I think there’s still some hope for those of us who appreciate acoustic-driven melodies in 2020. Staunton has all the right pieces and tools to do some amazing work, and in Last of the Light, he affords us a look into his artistry that’s far more absorbing than any of the other debuts I’ve listened to lately.