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Chris Bartels - Myths and Mold (2017)

Myths and Mold / Album Video Teaser #1:

Written by Shannon Cowden, posted by blog admin

Minnesota singer/musician/songwriter Chris Bartels’ second release under his own name, Myths and Mold, is a five song EP testifying to his considerable skills as both a fundamentally sound songwriter but, likewise, as an experienced sound auteur who often approaches his performances like a painter filling a canvas with color. The sure hand guiding these compositions has talents ranging far beyond the common place – Bartels’ sense for incorporating melody and guitar into his work has a thoroughly modern feel while still recalling recognizable motifs and musical touches that have guided popular music since its birth. His lyrical inventions are, in their own way, every bit as rewarding and he takes a similar artistic approach to incorporating them in his work. Myths and Mold is decidedly indie in both presentation and origin, but don’t let that mislead you into potentially regarding it as a less than professional level work. Far from it. There’s considerable polish on every song here and the overall performance exhibits ambition and sophistication far beyond the purview of mediocre talents.

The opener “Blind” introduces novices to his approach and, just as importantly, his guitar work. There’s a sinewy, flexible quality to the guitar playing on Myths and Mold and its melodic contributions have an idiosyncratic quality missing from many similar efforts in this style. The song has some pop leanings – note how it swells into being like great pop songs sometimes do before seamlessly transitioning into the main body of the track. “Missoula” has a much more defined six string presence without it ever dominating the performance – instead, it meshes in quite nicely as another component part with the vocal harmonies, inventive percussion, and evocative production. The song begins with a bit of ambient sound fx and has, arguably, the EP’s most memorable melody. “Stay” has much less of an overt reliance on guitar and, instead, takes a more orchestral approach to complement Bartels’ customary vocal approach.

“Myths and Mold”, the EP’s title song, is a surprisingly brief number but, perhaps, the most challenging musical piece on the release. There’s a remarkable fluidity, however, to the way Bartels explores an assortment of textures in the time he allots himself. It makes an excellent prelude to the finale “Counting Hands” and this return to the sound of the EP’s first two songs makes for a nice bookend with the opening piece “Blind”. Bartels has a number of musical projects that get his time and attention, but one gets the obvious sense that there’s something quite unique for him about working under his own name and the sense of the personal on Myths and Mold is suggestive and profound. This Minnesota songwriter and performer may be an indie scene fixture, but such status doesn’t devalue his talent and the five songs on this release bear that out with vivid clarity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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