Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
Charles leaves his onions at the door…
And here we are again. Same place; different year. Right now, the papers are full of predictions for 2023. Not to mention ways to stay fit and healthy, and how to burn off the festive excess. We enjoyed the Christmas season and have the stomach to prove it. But the predictions thing is more interesting to me. The idea of guessing what is going to happen in the coming 12 months, is seemingly mandatory these days. And those days too. It is habitual for the press to predictably churn out the same unpredictable predictions, when each year they have one thing in common. They just don't know. Did we guess a few years ago that a pandemic was going to change absolutely everything? Did we guess last year that the Queen was going to die? Did we guess that Ukraine would be thrown into war by the only living “human” we are all universally allowed to hate - without fear that we are committing a hate crime? Did we guess that Argentina would win the World Cup? Did we guess that England wouldn't? Well, maybe that one. We always do well, but never quite well enough. But so you see, we just don’t know.
Oh I'm sorry, I meant to start by wishing you all a Happy New Year. Because that's what we're supposed to do. But why do we do this? New Year's Eve is one of the biggest celebrations in the world. Could even be the biggest, because without exception, it affects EVERYONE. But does it really AFFECT ANYONE? I mean, what actually HAPPENS? Christmas is a time for celebration, for obvious reasons. It also neatly rounds off each year. Argentina celebrated winning the World Cup - for obvious reasons - they won. But when we "celebrate" a new year, what are we actually celebrating? Is it a pat on the back for managing to get through the previous year? That we're still alive and still have some health remaining? Nope, because it's all about the NEW year. So then it must be because we know that a jolly wonderful year is ahead of us! But we DON'T know this. We know nothing of what is to come of this year. 2023 is to be the great unknown. Like every year. Until it comes to a close, of course. THEN we know. It is more in desperate hope that we cheer blindly! I just simply find it fascinating that we all celebrate absolutely nothing, hugely, every single year. Raising a glass to a big fat question mark. Or after a new year fitness regime, a strapping, slim, toned question mark. Here's to something or other! And then we all fall over and nurse a hangover for a day or two. Great way to start 12 months of the unknown!
Ever hear of starting the year with a bang? Ever actually done it...? Don't most of us just blearily wander through these cold winter days like a zombie on autopilot? I find that a good way to kickstart a new year is to prepare for it beforehand. To round off the previous year by starting to plan (or at least think about) the next, just a little bit before it actually starts. I probably should have given this advice a couple of weeks ago. Sorry! I was too busy planning. So, the sensible among you, I applaud your forethought. This whole idea of planning, I got from my father's obsessive compulsion to make lists on top of lists on top of lists. It is something he has habitually done and will habitually do. And I am sure he feels great comfort, satisfaction and relief with every striking off of each "to do". The point is, it works. We are human. We forget things. We need structure and order. We need a plan. Otherwise we start each day with the word "and". There is no beginning. There is no end. Just plenty of middle. Have you ever read a book or an article that starts with "and"? It just wouldn't make sense...
New Year can be a depressing time for many. This is equally pointless. Those who celebrate and those who wallow have one thing in common - they have no idea what is around the corner. Whether we think negatively or positively, we must try to make it what it is. What it will be. What you want it to be. And this pretty much has to begin before the starting line. It's not like New Year was a surprise... We all knew it was coming. We little people can't do the "big man" things. We can't stop war, we can't make world peace, we can't stop climate change, we can't stabilise economy, and we can't "deal with" Putin (I just crossed that off my list), but we can do our own life. We can do life well. One's own little private life. Sooooo..... Izzy Wizzy, let's get busy!
The French had it right, with the verb Faire. Conjoining both doing and making. Why are we here on Earth? To do, and to make. Sounds faire enough. The rest of the world seems more content with avoir and être donné. Mais c'est la vie. In other ways however, France is not exactly in the best way right now... Take Paris, for example. Was it in the papers for its smart prettiness over the Christmas period? Nope. Instead, it was a god-awful tragedy of several people being killed. And did the city mourn? Nope, it rioted. Right or wrong, none of this should be happening at this festive time. Obviously killing is wrong all year round. This clearly shows that something has gone wrong. The system doesn't work. Yet still, my memories of beautiful Paris remain unscathed for the most part. My dream of what Paris used to be, is still a current one. As opposed to a currant bun (which is also nice). I suppose it is the romance in me. I block out the bad by closing my eyes to the horror. Perhaps in this way, I am a coward. Who knows? But I just prefer beauty to reality. Call me old fashioned. “You’re old fashioned” - thank you. And the optimism in me hopes that one day it will all go back to the way it used to be. When things were calm and how they were initially envisioned. Pahahaha! Okay, fair enough. I'm living in a dream. But is this such a bad thing, really? "We are such stuff as dreams are made on". I agree with The Bard.
Another chap agrees with me, but more on that later. You came here for a review, and a review is what you’re going to get. Shayan Regan - one of the almighty kings of the New Artist Spotlight - released an album both last year and the year before. Yes, the same album, twice. A Poison With an Aftertaste was first released at the end of 2021, which I covered in my longest review ever (at least perhaps until now). It was remarkable (the album, not the review), and still is. I still play it regularly, in full, from beginning to end. And I still don’t really go for the first track. But aside from that, it is perfect. The thing is, Shayan had so many tracks left over from that “session” that he had enough for another album! But he didn’t want it to be a new album, because it was mostly in the same vein. It was all the same part of his life. So he released the album again, in the form of a deluxe edition, complete with 8 new tracks. They were all indeed in keeping with the theme and feel of the original LP. Except for one. One which stood out to me as something completely different. Something new and fresh. Something that deserved not to share a throne. Something that to me was “single material”. Homemade Paris. Does one really have to go to Paris to go to Paris? No, this isn’t a riddle. Well, I suppose maybe it sort of is… The song is about making one’s own idyllic Paris in one’s own home. Or at least the feeling. I don’t mean Shayan is a model enthusiast, building the Eiffel Tower out of matchsticks. It is a love song about the joys of love and the happy excited nature of a young couple. It is about the dream of setting up life wherever you want, be it in Paris, Florence, Rome or Bognor. It will always be there to enjoy, but to have each other in these perfect surroundings is the real gift. This is true romance at its finest. Shayan is a true follower of dreams. He dreams the dream, and thus lives it. Hence agreeing with The Bard and myself. So the song was perfect. BUT…! I will be blunt and honest - as always. The sound was weak. It was quiet, it was unbalanced, it was thin, and most annoyingly, it had SO MUCH potential. It was one of my absolute favourites by Shayan Regan. So to be tossed at the end of a deluxe edition with mediocre sound quality, felt like a crime! This song was surely destined for bigger and better things… I thought so. And so did Michael from The Blindfold Experience, who approached Shayan with an idea.
The idea was to make a good thing better. To take the song and most of its parts, and give it a fresh production. To do away with the onions and bring in the flowers. Shayan had no hesitation in saying YES! Michael is fabulous at getting the feel and sentiment of a song, then building upon that foundation, rather than starting from scratch, or missing the point entirely. He slightly restructured the song, gave it oomph, wrote a new bridge, played and recorded new parts and generally made the song have more of a journey. He also made it ROCK, with added beauty - clever chap! Not an easy thing to do. Aside from the new bridge, Shayan’s original vocals were used in the new version. This is because his singing is always perfect. Just always. So why do it all again?? And yes, that means his shining vocals were recorded through his usual hi-fi methods: the built-in mic on a cheap pair of Apple earphones - quality stuff! The thing is, this all should sound terrible. Bits of the original recording, bits of the new recording, poor quality vocal recordings, months of space in between to overthink things. So why does it sound so thrilling and amazing? Because it was all pieced together and finalised with the sorcery of the one and only Andres Guazzelli. I gather that it was not a straightforward task to mix. But Andres is not one to fail or to give up. The music sounded sensational. The struggle was the vocals. Apple earphones are notoriously unforgiving in terms of smoothness of sound. They are harsh and brittle. They have no depth. And basically not worth using. However, this was what was used. With the most innovative, inventive and frankly astounding techniques not comprehensible by we mere mortals, Andres was able to achieve perfection in sound. The pieces of the Paris jigsaw fit neatly into place, and the song was one.
But on to the song itself. It’s brilliant. It’s truly brilliant. It has everything that a massive hit single should have. Sure, Michael gave a chunk of his heart to the song, and I’m sure Andres barely slept for a week, but Shayan Regan is the true star here. It is his voice, and his song. And it is the song that conquers all. One of the biggest hits of 2022 was As It Was, by Harry Styles (also covered by Shayan last year). And it utterly pales in comparison to Homemade Paris. Released on the eve of Christmas Eve (the very day this awful stuff happened in Paris - I won’t be blaming Shayan for this, but an unbelievable coincidence!), it seemed a strange time to release a new single - despite having a somewhat Christmas-themed bridge. But I think it was planned. A plan to start the new year early. To give us a sense of what is to come. Sure, we never know how the year is going to be. Will it be good? Will it be bad? Well Shayan is hedging his bets by making sure it starts with a bang. And with a pop/rock song as delightfully energetic as this, it’s a foregone conclusion that this will be a hit. The melodies, the hooks, the production, the harmonies, the relentless crashing drums, the ENERGY! And, the love. In December I was asked who in the New Artist Spotlight would blow up in 2023 - no bomb jokes - and without hesitation I said Shayan Regan and Sabrina Barreto, because “I think they’ve got what it takes”. Everyone knows how much I like Sabrina’s music, and her potential in the mainstream is massive. But Shayan has this something. This magic personal quality to his music and his personality. “His personality is personal” - nice one, Charles. What I mean is, I think Harry Styles would be rather jealous of what Shayan has. And I think Styles should be trembling in his little high-heeled booties with the prospect of losing his crown and passing it over to Shayan. And why not?? Shayan Regan frankly deserves it more. Step down, young Harry! It’s what Harrys are supposed to do (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). You’ll still have your millions! I am genuinely excited by what Shayan has in store for 2023.
Michael was concerned about his hearing during the project, so I wished him a Happy New Ear.
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