Andrew Gerard – Run Away With Me – Album Review
There was every reason to have high hopes and expectations for the new full-length record from singer/songwriter Andrew Gerard; we’ve been reviewing singles in pre-release of this album since the end of 2016 and been listening with anticipation as Run Away With Me evolved over time. As far as my ears were concerned, not only did he give us an audible reason to keep listening, he also put out several killer videos supporting the music, including the lead-single we checked out, “Falling To Pieces,” which just happened to star actress Anne Heche. That was where we STARTED our experience with Andrew’s music – can you believe that? Believe this too – I had a favorable opinion of that first song, loved the video, I could certainly acknowledge Gerard’s natural talent as a songwriter…yet song after song that continued to come in for review offered new depths & dimensions to his sound…it kept getting better.
And now here we are…Run Away With Me was officially released on January 1st this year to start 2018 off on the right note. Feels like it’s going to be an amazing year for music…like a vibe you can feel pulsing through the air somehow…Andrew’s uplifting & rhythmic approach has great energy to get the year going and a widely accessible sound that won’t stay a secret for too much longer…he’s on his way.
Andrew Gerard is a remarkably expressive singer and as far as his songwriting is concerned, he will find a way on each and every one of his songs to create a memorable hook. And when I say memorable, I mean chances are, you’ll never forget it. Every single that we’ve reviewed from this record before its release is a song I truly remember…because likely, for weeks and weeks after hearing whichever song it was, the hooks he writes stick with you, every time. Hallmarks of a great songwriter much? I think so.
Opening the album brilliantly with the title-track, “Run Away With Me” develops stunningly as it flows, beginning with a sincere and isolated sound and expanding into a full-on pop-electro experience. Ever the versatile performer, Andrew puts a ton of his songwriting chops on display right away & switches his approach & tone in multiple successful ways as he transitions from part to part as he’s singing. The very beginning instrumental bars of the song already have a rich & beautiful texture & mix of emotions; Andrew sings with perfect tone as the song starts to build, finding his way to soaring heights as it plays on, bursting into a falsetto highlight-moment just before the first minute is up and “Run Away With Me” heads into full-gear. The hooks of the chorus are kept simple lyrically, delivered with such impeccable rhythm that his performance is bound to snag the attention of ears all over the place…and keep it.
I reviewed “Shine” in the past…Andrew’s made a smart call by putting this highly-danceable single early on in the lineup for Run Away With Me, it keeps the energy surging at the beginning stages of the record and builds on the heights reached by its opening title-track. “Shine” is outrageous and over-the-top fun in its attitude and features some serious highlights in Andrew’s vocals that you don’t wanna miss out on.
I really liked “Rewind” and felt like this was a serious highlight for multiple reasons. There’s like…an added island-vibe that you can feel in the drum rhythms and acoustic guitar melody accenting the main beat, certainly even more pronounced as the song shifts into the chorus with the backing vocals. Layer by layer, “Rewind” finds success…all Andrew’s stuff is perfect produced at all times, there’s not even a remote flaw your ears could find in that regard – but there are choices being made at times that really suit the structure of the writing and the efforts being made here. Andrew’s vocals get a bit more space in the mix here…and as he drifts in between his own defining qualities and his best Adam Levine similarities, you really get to hear what a capable and skilled, technical and professional performer he is. The music really has a sensational amount of flavor to it…a real fusion of multiple styles & sounds that all work incredibly well…like REALLY well…and I almost feel BAD about the amount of effort put into such a great structure and sound…because I felt like Andrew stole the show on this cut. Mind you…it’s kind of one of those ‘chicken or the egg’ scenarios…because really, he needed the special dynamics and unique blend of sound/style to spring-off from creatively and as a performer to make the magic happen. I suppose it doesn’t really matter how a song ends up coming into existence when the end results are golden does it? “Rewind” is a killer cut on Run Away With Me and a great example of just how widespread Andrew’s sound can be when it comes to his personal style, approach and overall appeal.
All these new tunes on the record are seriously impressive! Each time I hear Andrew’s vocals on this album throughout these beginning four tracks, I like what I’m hearing from him more and more. The man has really embraced his moment and he’s making the most of every second of it – something I think you can absolutely hear on a song like “Right Kind Of Love” – he’s attacking the microphone with captivating charm and vibrant energy you can’t help but want to turn up. But c’mon right? What song on this record hasn’t been single-worthy so far? There are two cuts on this record that might stand out to me more than any others in terms of really being the tunes that have that intangible magic of a single that’ll really connect with people out there, and this is absolutely one of them. I think Andrew’s found an incredible approach to both the verse and chorus and sings this one exceptionally well in both the lead & background…the consistent beat and the way the music envelops him as it develops makes for a complete audio-breakfast with all the vitamins your ears require for their daily intake and then some.
Andrew digs his dance tunes…there’s no doubt about that. Songs like “Shine” and “One More Night” definitely provide that retro-electro groove with bright & bombastic pop hooks firing off from the microphone & music at all times. Incidentally, I reviewed both those songs at the same time…if you didn’t click the link for “Shine” up top already, read the full-review on that and “One More Night” right here. I was tossed-up between them as to which I liked better the first time around, because like all of Andrew’s tunes, they’re both great songs. In the context of this record, I felt like “One More Night” had the advantage in where it sits in the track listing and flow of the album. At this point in the record we’re well adjusted and attuned to Gerard’s uplifting energy & this cut brings Run Away With Me up another notch on the excitement-dial before heading into the tender mix of melancholy on the lead-single “Falling To Pieces.”
I was stoked to see that the journey to Run Away With Me traced all the way back to “Falling To Pieces.” I definitely thought it was a strong first impression of Andrew and his music – but the strength of context and the right setting really play a role on this record, putting “Falling To Pieces” in a new light of sorts. Stripping back the amped-up electro-pop energy of “One More Night” and its funked-out bass-lines in favor of the more intimate sound and personal moment that “Falling To Pieces” feels like allows the record to breathe for a moment here at just the right time. I don’t want to say it was expected – it just makes complete sense for some reason to let “One More Night” find that defined separation from what comes next…the way that the dynamics shift to the gentle sound and heartbreaking lyrics of “Falling To Pieces” becomes somehow more effective and dramatic in the process. Even as many times as I’ve heard it, I still think it’s one of the strongest cuts on the record and really stands out confidently amongst the new material with one of the album’s most fragile sounds and captivating moments. Not just a great song to begin with, but here within the confines of Run Away With Me, it has found a perfect home in the lineup that serves the album very strongly.
BUSTED Andrew Gerard! Now we all know you can assemble an album as smartly and tightly as you can with your songs. Surprise, surprise, right people? This guy doesn’t make mistakes, c’mon now.
Even a song like “Miracles” which probably heads more in the folk direction than my own personal taste would usually gravitate towards, there’s no arguing about just how exceptional the effort and results are. With what sounds like some pedal-steel in the mix, keyboard organs, a shuffling beat and golden harmonies to be found at every turn, I can definitely appreciate the added enthusiasm and uplifting vibe that’s been written into the fabric of this tune. I’ll admit, I’m kind of a sucker for the rhythm and melody that he’s got goin’ on in the verse and I love the addition of violin into this tune as well…it’s hard not to get sucked into a vibe like this when it’s so audibly clear that everyone involved is committed and authentically enthusiastic; Andrew’s having a great time and the invitational sound of “Miracles” warmly welcomes you in to join in on the fun.
I can also admit that I like the more…heavy-emotional content more though right? We all have our personal preferences…I suppose what I’m here to do is express the point of view I have, so there you go, you have it. I really like and respect that Andrew can ‘write happy’ on a tune like “Miracles” or sadder like on “Forest Fire” and experience equal levels of successful results in both gears. Much like I felt about “Falling To Pieces,” the second single I’d reviewed from this record, “Forest Fire,” seems like a perfect fit in its new environment as well. Overall I just think it’s a great tune…love the music he’s come up with and think the video he shot for it was absolutely spectacular. Hooks are plenty strong and the entire song, as I mentioned, was completely memorable; like the comfort of an old friend coming over to visit, I get to chill out with my good buddy “Forest Fire” in the speakers of the studio again – and it’s plenty welcome. Great tune then, great tune now – read the full review on “Forest Fire” right here.
I think that the most satisfying song all around for me was “How Long?” – there are just about a million reasons to love what Gerard’s come up with here. As many times as I listened to Run Away With Me, whatever that amount of times was, was the same amount of times I concluded that “How Long?” is most likely the best song on the album as far as my ears are concerned. I mentioned there were two songs that stood out to me as the indisputable singles-of-all-singles that are upon this record, which for the record, is FULL of singles…”Right Kind Of Love” is one, “How Long?” would be my other choice for sure. Hell, it’d be my first choice of the two almost without question – I think “How Long?” is likely the most single-worthy tune I’ve heard from Andrew so far – and as you can tell, that’s saying plenty! What’s NOT to love about this song though? Seriously! His phrasing, metering, cadence and flow are all so beyond-perfection here that if this song doesn’t find its way to the top of a whole bunch of playlists out there somehow, then I clearly just don’t know music at all and I’ll properly consider retirement. The world I live in should never change so much that there isn’t time in a day for a song this damn good. And for real – listen to the way he commands and bends the words in the chorus to the will of the melody – THAT is how you serve the songwriting with a performance that complements the design.
“We Fall” was probably about the closest call I’d imagine that Andrew had to make for this record. No reason not to love it…still a great tune, but in terms of that memorable hook he’s bound to supply in every song you’ll hear, the majority of the pull in this particular song comes from the verse, rather than the chorus. That’s bound to happen from time to time…and “We Fall” still has its own appeal in the chorus…maybe it felt like more of a reach in the transition of sound between parts on this cut…not quite sure if I can put my finger fully on it. I suppose it comes down to feeling like the verse was about one thing, the chorus another entirely, which led to more of a mixed reaction. I really love the reflective & nostalgic way he’s approach the words of the verse and found myself kind of wanting a bit more of a connection to that through the chorus…which arguably, there very well might be and it might just not be as fully explained or as plain as day for a thick brick like me to grasp onto. Essentially, both of the main parts have their own merit and hooks worthy of your ear-time, but the song as a whole felt like two.
I liked how the beginning of “Our Last Goodbye” started out with such a wide-open sound and acoustic guitar with Andrew’s vocals…but when that powerful beat and keyboards come in, this entire song goes straight-up to the next level. Working the quiet/loud dynamics with exceptional cleverness, “Our Last Goodbye” is every singer’s dream…there are so many pivotal moments that have ridiculous amounts of dramatic effect and perfect spots for Gerard’s vocals to work their magic, and he’s incredibly focused on making every second of this tune hit the mark. Seven of the twelve songs on this record are three-minutes or less in total length – and it could definitely be argued that none use their limited amount of space so strongly as “Our Last Goodbye” does. There is so much contrast working in favor of this song between the light & dark, lyrically AND musically, that he couldn’t have nailed this concept, delivery and execution any harder than he has here – that’s just a flat-out great song is what that is. “Our Last Goodbye” has some of the best lyricism on the record and I really felt like every moment of this entire song was a moment that really counted in the experience altogether…exceptional audio entertainment.
One of the most commendable aspects of Andrew’s efforts as a songwriter is that he’s been able to display so many different angles and approaches to his own sound and really explored its depths creatively, that by the end of the record, it’s so easy to accept a song like “She’s My Beautiful Day” that incorporates violin and a more folksy energy to its atmosphere. Lyrically, I think this final track is a real representation of the sunny character that Andrew actually IS; he might give you several emotional & thought-provoking moments and a perfect approach to melancholy sincerity throughout the album – but make no mistake, everything is going so RIGHT for Gerard leading up to and including this record that I’d be surprised if he didn’t actually skip down the street rather than walk. I might like the more heavy emotional content overall, but I can certainly imagine that in the place he’s at in his music, career and LIFE right now, that it would almost be damn hard NOT to write an over-the-top happy tune like “She’s My Beautiful Day” – how could he not? Things are certainly working out for Andrew Gerard – and they should be; the effort on Run Away With Me is superhuman and entirely enjoyable to listen to – people will love this album.
And assuming you do…I’ve got one final tidbit of great news for ya…some of that real insider-info Rachel Maddow kind of stuff, but like, for music. Word on the street is that Andrew Gerard is already on his way back into the studio with MORE songs and material, ready to start the follow-up to Run Away With Me immediately! Stay tuned on the details of the upcoming record and hear the songs from his latest album by checking out his official website at: https://www.andrewgerardofficial.com/
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