The Good Life
[Paul Dateh Media; 11/03/2009]
Paul Dateh x Ken Belcer -- The Good Life
It’s been quite some time since this album dropped towards the end of 2009, but we’re still playing catch up on these album reviews. Violinist and singer Paul Dateh frequently collabs with guitarist Ken Belcher, so it was only natural that they would join forces and put out an album together. With a heavy emphasis on their instrumental abilities, the duo released this concept acoustic project EP entitled The Good Life for which the MV of the title track dropped back in October of 09. We already know the two make a good team from all their youtube performance clips but how did they fare on a 7 track EP? Read on to find out.
Good Life – Released prior to the rest of the album, this song has actually been a favorite of mine for some time. It has great acoustic bounce to it ala Jason Mraz and the simple harmonies really strengthen the track. Plus it’s always great to hear a track that examines and questions the spoon fed idea of the “American Dream”. This is a great way to start things off.
Felicia Fleck – They follow up the opener with an instrumental where Ken’s guitar work and Paul’s violin each take center stage. It’s got a slight bluegrass type of feel to it and I don’t mind one bit that there are no lyrics to the song. In fact I’m not entirely sure they’d be able to successfully pull off this kind of vibe vocally. So as is, it’s simply a great piece of instrumentation.
Hope that You – I gotta say the song is a little cartoony for me. It’s got a happy-go-lucky feel to it and it feels a bit cheesy to me for most of the song. From solely a technical point of view the song sounds great and is mixed well but I could never fully buy into the style. That’s not to say it isn’t catchy, because it is.
The Inevitable Chase – This is another instrumental track and they dive even further into the country/bluegrass feel. As a sheer technical excersice the two sound incredible, proving that they are very versatile as musicians. This is another example where I think it’s better they didn’t sing because although this style of music isn’t my favorite, I can appreciate the talent that went into it without being distracted by less than convincing vocals.
Simple Promise – I really enjoyed this number. There are a lot of subtle touches that really help bring out the sound including the xylephone, slight harmonies and switching of focus between vocals and instrumentation. It all came together for a varied, textured, and enjoyable sound.
Meridian - Continuing the trend of having every other track be vocal-less, the duo continue to experiment with their sound, tackling the (soft) country-rock genre. I actually think out of the three instrumentals on this EP, this is one that could have possibly been a great song with vocals too. Either way I really liked this one as it makes it impossible to deny their talent.
Another Chance – Paul seems to like to close out his albums on a more melancholy note as he sings about his regrets at the end of a relationship. It’s a very simple song with just guitar and vocals for the majority but it allows Paul’s voice to breathe and the subtleties to come through since he has the type of voice that can be easily overshadowed by heavier music.
These two set out to do a little something different, and experiment with their sound and overall I’d say it was a successful venture. Though certainly not perfect, what’s presented on this EP is enough to prove that both Paul and Ken are more than apt with their tools of their trade and versatile to match. I thought it was a wise choice to have every other song be purely instrumental since there were a couple instances where their vocal attempts fell a little short of convincing. I guess that would be more of a criticism for Paul, who has a great voice but it has a little bit of a limited style to it. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate their attempts, and their ear for good musicality, arrangement and above all instrumentation certainly overshadowed most of the flaws found otherwise. I’m glad they kept it short as an EP, otherwise I think this experiment could have gotten tiring. The album starts and ends on high notes while falling just a little bit in the middle. I’d recommend this for any fans of Paul and Ken, and a few choice singles for the rest you who may not be familiar with either.
Must Listen: Good Life, Felicia Fleck, Simple Promise, Another Chance