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.
𝙄 𝙂𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙄 𝘿𝙤𝙣’𝙩 𝙇𝙤𝙫𝙚 𝙔𝙤𝙪 - 𝙎𝙝𝙖𝙮𝙖𝙣 𝙍𝙚𝙜𝙖𝙣
Captivated, Charles stops staring at the screen, looks up and discovers a true shining star - in his most in-depth review yet.
The telephone. The humble ring-ring telephone. A simple, everyday tool we have used for many decades, well, every day. Of late, however, you might have noticed that they are somewhat different and more habitual these days than of those. In fact, rarely is the thing to leave one’s hands for more than a few moments, before being swiftly whipped up again. Or swiped to ground with the aim of a clumsy child - thank goodness for cases and carpets! What exactly are we staring at this entire time? What are we actually doing? Does that thumb of yours get tired? Do you ever wonder if in years to come, one thumb will be horrifically disfigured when compared to the other? Should we be frequently swapping hands to avoid this concern? Maybe using the little pinky from time to time…? Phones have in many cases taken the place of a laptop. Hell, in a lot of cases they have taken the place of LIFE! They are capable of just about anything you can think of. We have come a long way from texting. Keyboards have disappeared entirely (R.I.P. Blackberry). The blower has moved on from being a handy tool to being a way of life. It is all about consumption. Not meaning the phone will give you tuberculosis…! It forgoes conversation and closeness and replaces with content. One can also take beautiful (or inane) photos and videos in breathtaking resolution. One can use A.I. to pretend one has a puppy - I’m not that lonely yet. One can beam one’s location to another on the other side of the world - should one wish to. Even 3D graphics can be cast and rendered on these tiny little devices. They are how most people watch and listen to anything and everything all over the world. Tens of millions of songs at your fingertips. Hundreds of billions of videos to go blind to. And then there’s gaming - God help us. One of the most handy things for me is the Voice Memos app - what with coming up with some sort of musical idea every few hours… What is your most used app? What do you use your phone for the most? I’ll bet isn’t making a phone call… Let me know in the comments below!
Ultimately though, for most, a modern phone is handy, useful and cool. Not absolutely vital. Now, I may be wrong about that, but ask yourself this: what is it that you REALLY get from your phone? Is it that necessary to you? Actually, my personal answer would be in multiples, and it is utterly vital to me, these days (so I’m wrong already). But maybe only because things have changed and it has BECOME vital. It is not like decades ago, everyone in the world was failing to do life, and nothing worked. It has simply usurped the old ways, and people have different priorities, hobbies and habits nowadays. Not necessarily a bad thing, but is it possibly a little bit of a waste of technology to have in the pocket of every single human being in the world…? I mean, we’re not ALL aeronautical engineers. We’re not ALL working for NASA. Do we all NEED three camera lenses mounted on the backside of the thing? Sometimes I just wish this technology could be used to a greater advantage.
I have touched briefly on the Voice Memos app - the idea of recording little ideas so as not to forget them. But this is literally the sound version of a notebook - hardly that impressive. It is the digital version of those little tape dictaphones that journalists used to use when pestering famous people we’ve never heard of. It gets the thing down “on paper”. But it is sub-par quality and usually in mono. But of course! It’s only a phone! Oh-ho HO! ONLY A PHONE??? My tiny little phone is far more powerful than my Mac! So why do we have mediocre quality mono recordings from it? Because no one thought to use the phone’s capability in a slightly alternative way. It turns out that we might not need our computers and high-end gear anymore. Bear with me.
What if I were to suggest to an artist that they make a whole song from beginning to end on a phone? That doesn’t mean to lean over the phone with a guitar and record one track into Voice Memos, no. A fully fledged, well-recorded multitracked song, all balanced, mixed and mastered using only the phone. A nice gimmick, perhaps. Would take far too long. Would be too fiddly. The limits would be, well, limiting. And the sound quality really would of course suffer. Well that’s where you’re wrong. I wasn’t joking about getting rid of all the rest of your gear. It turns out, it really isn’t that necessary. Hertfordshirian lad, Shayan Regan has somehow managed to do just this (impeccably). Born in Yorkshire, moving to London, migrating to Hertfordshire and eventually (at least for now) settling in Florence (!!), this chap just can’t keep still! Back to the music. Shayan has actually managed a little more than said ‘phoney’ track. He has managed to make an entire album using only his phone. That means multitrack recording, mixing and mastering. What, all with the built in mic…? No, of course not! What do you think he is, a pleb?? No no, he uses the little white earphones that come with the phone (or at least used to - cuts “for the environment”). Sure, REALLY professional! But that’s to listen to what you’ve recorded. How did he actually RECORD it? Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. That tiny little hole on the earphones that rests on the wire at chin level, with a button or two. Yes, the one you see people chewing as they walk and talk. But I thought you said this would be quality!! I didn’t actually. But it is! These days, a little patience is all that is needed over high end gear.
This feat of simply having achieved such a thing deserves praise in itself. But the fact that I was absolutely blown away by the album - A Poison With an Aftertaste - regardless of how it was recorded and created, really just sheds many layers of knowledge from my brain (surprisingly there was one or two to start with). It makes me want to rethink and re-examine everything I have ever known or thought about. Maybe a spoon would work better if flipped upside down…? Tried it. Dreadful idea. Muck all down me. Let me make this clear. This is not pretty good or decent, considering it was recorded on a phone. This is utterly brilliant regardless of the studio method. Had this album been recorded in a more usual way, I would not have known, and I would still be reviewing it - of course, it wouldn’t be quite the same review. Coming back to Shayan - as if I ever left - There is so much more praise to come, truly from the depths of my heart (eurgh - yuk!). For a start, of all the artists on the New Artist Spotlight, I believe this man to be the artist most likely to make it in the mainstream, in terms of music alone. He just has that THING! It’s the thing that can never be explained. The reason Ed Sheeran was chosen. The reason Lewis Capaldi was picked - if they could lift him from a drunken, drooling slumber. Shayan has the charm, honesty and tone of Harry Styles, blended with the cool and kookiness of slightly lesser known Lauv (although still pretty huge). I said just now, “in terms of music alone” for a reason. He is incredibly ugly and not too dissimilar to Quasimodo (the Hunchback of Notre Dame). An unfortunate affliction. No no, I’m joking. The thing is, Shayan is very private and humble. He does not plaster himself all over the internet like most stars do. Is he maybe not great looking? Nope. Is he maybe a little older than most new pop stars? Nope. He is 21 years old and a very handsome chap indeed. The kind of face that would happily sit well with a load of screaming teenage girls. Correction: one that would MAKE them scream, in adoration and in love. I cannot show you a photo however, because there seemingly isn’t one. He is that private! Let’s crash Google by all searching for a photo of him at the same time. I tell you, you’re wasting your time - you won’t find one. He is not even a fan of social media. Who actually is, though…? We do it because we are wont to do it.
By the way, this review is not a favour for a good friend of mine - Shayan and I had never spoken until yesterday morning. This is legitimately legit, as it were. I say this because it may seem over the top, but this is what the top quality pop music will do to a pop music lover. Instant natural gushing! Let’s talk music. Ultimately this is an acoustic album. I tend not to be a fan of purely acoustic music, particularly entire albums. But this collection of songs (oh, it is much more than that) has made me think differently. In fact it has made me think differently about a lot of things! But in this specific sense, the LP has made me realise that my un-love of acoustic music is not down to my taste. It is due to the music often not being good enough. This could be the case with a lot of other pop music with a more filled-out approach, with its mediocrity being disguised under layers of production and mixing. When the music is barebones, one zones in on two things: the voice and the song itself. I love every track on this album, and it is very quickly becoming one of my favourite albums of the year. Let me correct my statement: I love 9 of the 10 tracks on this album. The other I simply like quite a lot. Yes, even on the New Artist Spotlight, I am as honest as that! And I can’t be sacked for saying that, because I don’t get paid in the first place, so HA!
As you can tell by now, I am not focussing on one specific song this time - a first - because I just simply could not choose a favourite, and I wanted to give each song an equal chance of success in delivering my thoughts on the album as a whole. I have however picked ‘I Guess I Don’t Love You’ as a great example of what Shayan has to offer. Aside from the songs being brilliantly written and beautifully sung, Shayan’s arrangements are pretty much perfect. There is subtlety in backing vocals and reverb, occasional ornamental instruments brought in, and also the variation from guitar to piano as the lead instrument. Regan has managed all this using an app called Bandlab. It is an app I have yet to try out, but by George I will certainly will! NOT SPONSORED! Bandlab manages to be both a full studio on a phone, and a social way to interact with other fellow musicians and artists - the best of both worlds! How the bloody hell have I never heard of this app?? And so, through his studio app, Shayan was able to meet other musicians such as Anna Bowden, who co-starred on his track, ‘Maybe’. His good friend, Lauren, was also available to help on some light but important backing vocals on ‘Don’t You Dare’. The piano was a real actual piano (!), played by another great friend of his: Wessa. And from all of this love, passion, determination, time, effort and patience, this remarkable LP was born. Speaking of patience, Shayan is afflicted by the increasingly common disorder, ADHD. A disorder that is known for making it difficult to concentrate on the same thing for long periods of time. Our good friend Andres Guazzelli also “suffers” from it. I say “suffers” because he really doesn’t seem to mind. So how on Earth did Shayan manage to concentrate and complete this amazing journey…? I gather from Mr. Regan that ADHD can actually sort of help in these sorts of situations. Almost like there is an added obsession to get it done and meticulously focus on the process towards the end goal. All seems rather strange to me (and familiar at the same time)! But who cares, when we end up with such a wonderful early Christmas treat such as this?!
As to the lyrical theme of the album, I will quote the man himself: “It is a story about two people meeting, loving, marrying, having kids, and then one of them cheats on the other. The couple splits, then regret creeps in”. Pretty deep stuff for a man of 21! And all from his own imagination - a true artist. That’s a tip for all you artists out there: it doesn’t always have to be from personal experience. Art IS imagination. Shayan’s lyrics are equally as compelling as his music. By the way, this album goes perfectly with a glass of wine - not from imagination; sometimes experience is vital.
I want it noted that I was the first to discover Shayan Regan and predict his forthcoming stardom. At least in the public eye. So THERE! Let’s push this album all we can and get Shayan to the heights he belongs. I assure you it won’t be a chore, but an absolute pleasure. I could go on and on. I DID go on and on! Basically, I am emphatic for a reason. It has to be heard to be believed. What a VOICE!! And Shayan, remember me when you’re up there in lights!
(p.s. please don’t chuck all your computers and high (or low) end gear - I don’t wish to be held responsible)
Ping! Ping! Ping! Oh yeah, that’s the other bloody thing the bloody phone does.
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