Rhode Island has an abundance of talented singer-songwriters. Hit up one of the weekly open mics or spend a night out at a local bar or music venue and chances are that’ll you’ll hear …
Rhode Island has an abundance of talented singer-songwriters. Hit up one of the weekly open mics or spend a night out at a local bar or music venue and chances are that’ll you’ll hear someone playing music that’s purely astounding. Hailing from Smithfield and currently based in Chepachet, Jeff Lavender definitely belongs in this exclusive group. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I heard his acoustic-based project Valencourt during the early 2010s and he’s recently been exploring more amplified tones to go along with his heartfelt lyrics. This is exemplified in his latest EP titled “Look Alive” that he self-released back on Halloween.
The presence of an electric guitar, electronic elements and steady drums easily recognized right from the get go. There are noticeable rock influences within the songs as well with Lavender putting his own unique spin on them.
“This effort is a huge departure from my earlier acoustic-based project with Valencourt,” Lavender says about the EP via social media. “[I] felt particularly inspired by artists like Minus the Bear and Vacationer on ‘By the Ocean’, Queens of the Stone Age and Portugal. The Man on ‘Labyrinth’ and Daisy-era Brand New on ‘Nothing I Believe’. I was [also] feeling a mild bit of Glassjaw and Sade in my head when putting the hours in on ‘Nobody Wants To Hear Your Blues’. It’s sort of a concept record with themes of depression, identity, madness, nihilism, egotism, grappling with reality, and mortality.”
“If any of that sounds appealing to you and you’ve got 20 minutes, please have a listen!,” He adds.
While each influence brings a variety of tones and structures throughout the record, there are some underlying cohesive qualities. This is evident through how the guitars come across along with the rest of the instrumentation. “Labyrinth” and “The Man Who Stole The World” possess a distinct edge where “Nobody Wants To Hear Your Blues” and “By The Ocean” are more low-key and melodic. “Nothing I Believe” runs between both ends of the musical spectrum while taking the aesthetics from the other tracks and fusing them together in rhythmic fashion. Straying away from a previously established foundation can be tricky for any artist, but this new direction from Lavender makes me excited to hear what’s coming next.
To dive into the “Look Alive” EP, log on to Lavender’s Bandcamp page at jefflavender.bandcamp.com. It’s a stellar record that kind of flies under the radar but it’s absolutely worth your undivided attention. It’s also ideal material for anyone who enjoys tunes that are emotionally relatable while having the ability to leave a lasting impression.