Far From Final – Crossing The Sun – Album Review
I dig a lot of what I’m hearing in this new record from Far From Final – you might have even caught a few of my thoughts on this project from W. A. Wyatt on the last episode of the SBS Podcast when I was spinning the first cut from the new album Crossing The Sun, called “Exhale.” What can I say…Wyatt was clearly raised in that similar time-frame of alt-rock & its surrounding 90’s vibes that I was…he’s created a collection of tunes that definitely have that similarly wicked, gritty, grungy, raw & real appeal. I felt like “Exhale” was a great track to get you interested in what Far From Final is all about…I mean, I’m not alone in that, Wyatt put it as song one right? It’s there to make a solid first impression and establish an impact – hard to argue that “Exhale” is anything less than successful in that pursuit. Really strong hooks on this cut, I think he’s got’em in the verse, he’s got’em in those guitar chops building towards the chorus, and that chorus itself is completely memorable. Excellent energy to start the album, the instrumentation is on-point, the electric guitar sounds freakin’ fantastic; the writing on this tune is pretty bulletproof – I can imagine a ton of people out there would turn this one up loud as it goes.
Whereas a track like “Exhale” might remind you of something closer to the more amped-up moments of bands like Gin Blossoms or Toad The Wet Sprocket kind-of pop/rock combinations – “Cover Is Blown” dives much deeper in that gritty texture towards the Social Distortion side of things. Dig the mix on the vocals, like the style & swagger that Wyatt brings to the microphone here…he’s workin’ the magic on this cut without question. Another killer set of hooks in the vocals for the chorus with equally impressive sounds happening in the music at all times, “Cover Is Blown” is vibrantly lively, moves sleek & slyly…always a track I looked forward to hearing when this record was on repeat here at the studio. It’s just…it’s just…well it’s just HUGE is what it is really…I don’t think anything is overcomplicated here, I think Wyatt’s stuck to the essential ingredients and yielded the maximum results from the exceptional execution here…LISTEN to how into this groove the dude gets! Particularly in that final minute…you can hear him slip even further into the vibe and start to really pour it on as the song heads back to its meaty hooks for another triumphant run-through before it ends. Definitely a single-worthy tune.
LOVED the guitar work in the title-track “Crossing The Sun” – the solos and instrumentation really expand incredibly here and get all kinds of ambitious and imaginative, laying out texture and tone at all times. I was a bit more on the fence with this track in comparison to the first two songs on those first couple spins through the record; Far From Final dials back the sound a bit from the roar that “Cover Is Blown” comes with, which kind of gives you the impression the record might continue to build on that heavier vibe, but rather calms down & chills out with a more gentle tune and subtle rock song instead. Much more in that Toad The Wet Sprocket blend of tender-rock sound, definitely ain’t nothing wrong with that…it just takes a few spins to get used to & realize that Wyatt is bringing ideas of all kinds to create an album filled with diverse tunes & versatile tunes that offer different dimensions of his material from track-to-track. “Crossing The Sun” is quite the involved tune when it comes right down to it…overall, it’s got a highly appealing & mellow vibe that works in its favor, but by that same token, never really bursts too much further from the gear it starts with. It’s a well-controlled and well-written semi-acoustic rock-song – how about that? No harm in knowing which way you want a song to turn out!
“Reasons” is like what might happen if the rhythmic part of the Blues got a hold of Days Of The New in a way…there’s a really cool & haunting vibe in the low-end of this cut that I really dig. I’m pretty sure we’ve got a mix of both acoustic & electric working in Far From Final’s favor here…whatever it is that’s causing this track to sound as badass as it does is A-OK with me – I thought “Reasons” turned out amazingly well. Serious character in this tune…the kind strong enough to completely take hold of your attention, and you become genuinely invested in listening to vocals like this that are this intense, because clearly Wyatt is invested in every moment too. LISTEN to the layers of this one and LISTEN real good though people – especially in the verses…the surrounding guitars in the atmosphere are offering up killer moments throughout this entire song. The main melody-lines will have no trouble standing-out without me having to point you in their direction – I’m just doing my best to make sure you don’t miss ANY of the cool stuff goin’ down here! If anything, I might have liked the verse of “Reasons” even a bit more than its chorus…BUT…I’m not complaining, I felt like everything worked really well for Wyatt here.
Borrowing a page from what sounds closer to like…hmm…I’m gonna go with the Collective Soul playbook here…there’s still more than enough Far From Final to go around on “Illusions” to make sure this track still belongs to Wyatt. All I’m saying is that a song like this would fit so well onto an album like Hints, Allegations, And Things Left Unsaid – LISTEN to those guitar hooks! Again, certainly ain’t nothing wrong with that in my opinion – plus there’s better production on this track from Wyatt than there was on that entire debut record from Collective Soul. I really like the smooth approach to the vocal melody of this cut…some of my favorite lyrics on the album are on this cut as well. You can read that as, I not only like ‘what’ he’s singing, but ‘how’ he’s singing it all…it’s got that authentic connection you can feel when you listen and a perfectly chill vibe that’s warm, inviting, and ultimately soul soothing to hear. All that being said…those guitar hooks, those guitar hooks, those guitar hooks! They just sound so darn good you’ll never want them to stop – you combine them with the beautifully smooth bass-lines that keep the rhythm movin’ subtly with the drums…I mean…I dunno what else to tell ya, it all adds up here. It might not be the first single you wanna release due to the mid/slow-tempo…but let’s again not forget that mellowed-out songs like what Collective Soul created went on to become massive hits as substantial as their fast ones were…maybe the second or third single…but “Illusions” is another single-worthy tune on an album that houses quite a few.
Dude can sure light up the guitar with a brilliant solo or a killer hook any time he seems to want to – you gotta love that. Wyatt flexes both of those gears strongly on “Otherside Of The World” and gives you a decent dose of the skill-level he’s rockin’ out with. I felt like this particular cut and later on in “Prison On The Road” you can hear that 80’s influence creep in a bit more into the writing, as opposed to the more 90’s dominated style & sound spread out through most of Crossing The Sun. Was never quite sure what it was about this track…it’s played really well and executed with that same passion & precision that you’ve already come to expect at this point on the album from Far From Final…individually I felt like I enjoyed each part of this song…as a whole though…maybe a bit staggered at times or jagged somehow as it flowed. Hard to say…when Wyatt punches into the energy of “Otherside Of The World” it really hits and connects, you know? So it’s like…I mean, it’s going to stand-out – that’s how it was written, intended, and what it’s designed to do…it’s hard to explain…I guess I just felt like there was a little less balance in the energy & flow of this track in comparison to the others, but still really strong moments.
I’d be interested to know what other people are thinking about “Risky Ways” – I don’t tend to read other people’s reviews until I’ve written my own, but it’d be interesting to find out how they respond to this one. In many ways, I think he is taking a few risks with this one in some interesting choices in the downward progression of chords at times – but the stylistic cool that Wyatt brings to the vocals shouldn’t be underestimated either. Sometimes I felt there was a lethargy in the flow of the main hooks & chorus that might cost him, but I felt like the verse surrounding it really worked well and had life in its ideas. A bit of a push/pull in some ways as far as a listening experience goes maybe – but I also felt like “Risky Ways” really revealed those 90’s roots as well as any song could speak on his behalf for those. A song like this reminds me of the cuts that weren’t necessarily the immediate hits for you on a record, but one that continually grows on you over time, sometimes even eventually becoming your favorite for a time afterwards. Perhaps it’s another tune where that verse outshines the chorus a bit…I dig the alt-inspired gear that he slips into in the chorus even though it’s got such a desolate sound to it, but I can’t help but feel that the main appeal of this track will be the verse, not just to myself, but to all who listen. And shouldn’t it be? W. A. Wyatt is doing an immaculate job in singing this tune in all its parts – so I happen to like the verse more than the chorus – who cares what I think anyway? He still sings both parts spot-on and delivers on the energy & ideas he’s trying to communicate – that’s what matters.
Wyatt will show his 80’s influences on occasion as well and he’s not shy to do it. A song like “Prison On The Road” boasts those giant, sparkling, distorted, crunchy guitar riffs and perhaps a style that’s more true to the era of that time period than leaning on the 90’s style more prevalent in the surrounding tunes. Pretty deadly mix of shiny & gnarly here on “Prison On The Road” when it comes right down to it – definitely ear catching stuff without question. Again, pass or fail, no matter what you think of any given tune on this record, I think you have to admire what a solid grip that Wyatt has on songwriting and what makes a hook work – you can hear how he’s crafted each part of a song like “Prison On The Road.” It’s carefully planned and well-executed material on Crossing The Sun…what I really like about this record is that I don’t hear the sound of him rushing anything, I don’t hear the sound of pretentiousness, it all sounds like the genuine results of someone that sincerely loves the music, the art, and the craft.
The crispy sound of “Time Always Flies” has immediate appeal from the moment it drops into gear. Unique…and you notice that right away; he’s found a real stand-out hook here. I think the verse…hmmm…I like the effect, I just think it needed to come up about a notch or two volume-wise to keep the atmosphere of the song intact. Don’t get me wrong, I like my vocals sunk right into the mix and inaudible a lot of the times in stuff I normally listen to – and it’s far from that effect here on “Time Always Flies” here, but there is a noticeable drop that kind of snaps us out of the grip this song should continue to hold on us. The energy on this cut is through the roof cool and I think any potential remix to resolve that issue would take less than two seconds to fix – bottom line is the ideas are here in a way that really stand-out to the ears and demand attention. Even when it comes to the main hooks of “Time Always Flies” it’s not even about whether or not you love’em or hate’em – it’s the sheer fact that Wyatt’s written a sound that’s designed to stick right into your brain…you’ll remember this tune. Such an awesomely explosive beginning to this tune that it can’t help but stand-out – Wyatt’s ready to rock on “Time Always Flies” but is making just as much time for true rhythm & groove here too – I dig it.
“Volcano Sunset” ends the record on the sweetest of notes that Wyatt has presented on Crossing The Sun. Beautiful imagery in the words he’s written, exceptional guitars in the background layers with just that slight touch, tone, note or harmonic that adds a ton to the atmosphere of this innocent & intimate final tune, Far From Final lets you down gently at the end here to exit the experience. Sounds like just maybe a couple layers of guitars and a couple layers of vocals…the ingredients are minimal here as Wyatt heads boldly into the spotlight for a truly vulnerable moment, exposed completely in a sparse-but-melodic space that leaves him nowhere to hide. I’ll say this: While I don’t think that the hooks on “Volcano Sunset” are the ones that will grab you instantly, I think the sincerity will; it’s not a radio-hit – Wyatt knows that and that’s not the intentions or ambitions driving a song like this…it’s designed to be a moment in time that resonates and connects with those that are truly listening. Gorgeous chord progressions in the chorus of this song…there’s no doubt that Far From Final is focused on the beauty-aspect of a melody & sound like this…but there’s a wonderfully haunting charm that seems to float along with this song that gives it an added depth and makes for a definitively conclusive & mellow end to Crossing The Sun that certainly satisfies.
Find out more about Far From Final at the official website here: http://farfromfinal.com