East coast chill-pusher Gordon Robertson is back with his second single "As The Batteries Run Dry". Personally I've been eagerly waiting for it's arrival after his debut single was released earlier in the year. But, honestly, my regular reader (thanks for the support Dave) may have guessed this after my review of it. This brand new track has Robertson's jazz-handprints all over it. There's an honest and genuine appreciation for the definition of the word "smooth" here. So let's get into it before it's December 7th release date.
The tone for the track is set from the get go. No need for messing around with turn arounds or fills, the piano and backing vocals are all that's needed. It's almost like Gordon needs his listener to be relaxed to enjoy this song. The piano is very mellow here, it does a great job of outlining the chords while a guitar is finger picked over it. The guitar isn't too sharp in the mix but you can hear it well enough, even in those magical moments when the keys and guitars line up to hit the chords on the same beats. Even the electronic drums contribute to how much of a relaxing experience listening to this track is. They're lower in the mix than a full kit might have been. In a way it's more important that the bass drum is felt rather than heard. It fits well considering the other instruments are being played around each other almost as much as they're being played with each other.
I really enjoyed the transition between the verses and choruses in "As The Batteries Run Dry". It may seem a small thing to pick up on but the subtleties are part of the appeal of the track for me. Of course the progressions and the lyrics are in the forefront of the track, but the open sounding guitar arpeggios and simple backing vocals are equally important in creating the tracks atmosphere. And you get these leading into the chorus. The chorus itself features a fantastic vocal melody that rises and rises over the chords resulting in a very natural sounding cadence. For all it's mellow and chilled, there's no way to say there isn't any energy in the track. It is there, it just isn't over the top. Nothing in this single comes by the bucket load, and therein lies the appeal.
As much as young Gordon is a talented multi-instrumentalist, it's his voice that is the highlight of the track. This is the man whose voice is praised by Jackie Jackson mind. I get the feeling I said something very similar in my last review of his previous track, but that doesn't make it any less true. As a singer his voice is incredibly rich and smooth. There are no points in the recording where his voice is strained or pushing too hard to hit all the right notes (in the right order at that). Instead the vocal melody just drapes itself on top of the instrumental parts. Every so often it slips through one of the gaps left by the keys part and is supported by the rhythm section.
Now I can't talk about this tune and not mention the lyrics. "As The Batteries Run Dry" is an insightful look at holding a relationship in a time when us young'uns are all wrapped up in our facetweets and instabooks. That's not how Gordon puts it of course, his lyrics are nowhere near as cynical as any given old man. It's not critical of being involved in social media, rather it's being very honest about it's role in our lives now. This is something I'm seeing quite often as a subject matter in young artists lyrics, poetry and digital art. For an example I'll give a line from the chorus that features the tracks title.
Hopefully I'm not being too optimistic about this but I do like the idea that connecting with someone online can be as good as being next to someone in the flesh. If you can talk to someone and make each other feel better when physically you are miles apart, how can that be a bad thing? I see a lot of criticism of social media and it's importance in modern life but honestly I'm not inclined to agree with most of it. These lyrics are honest, not critical, but I suppose an admission of the role it has in our lives. Personally, I think it's no bad thing, and as a lyrical theme I find it refreshing.
The boy knows how to write a song. Don't take my word as a pretend journalist for it. His debut single won the OE International Song Contest in 2016. furthermore he has an unreleased tune in the Listen Up Music 2018 Songwriter's Festival.
On the 7th this track is released world wide for streaming. It's a very honest modern pop song but with an undeniable truly soulful foundation to it. Gordon Robertson performed over 100 live gigs last year so keep an eye out for him playing close to you soon. Hopefully the wait for single number three isn't going to be too long but until then, enjoy "As The Batteries Run Dry".