Chad Rubin – Brighter Days – Album Review
This guy! We’re taking a step back in the timeline of things to revisit a record you should have checked out by now by Chad Rubin, called Brighter Days. If you’ve been following along with our pages, you’re already familiar with his latest stunning single “Alone AF” and you might have checked out the side-project he’s been involved in lately, a duo known as Early Two Thousands, which we recently reviewed.
Safe to say – he’s been a busy man making music at every opportunity that seems to present itself. Can’t say I blame the guy – if I had natural talent like Chad has, I’d be writing words a lot less and putting a whole lot more music out there into the world.
Dude just has a brilliantly sincere approach to music that seems to automatically induce a smile on your face. Like, I don’t know exactly what you’d call if you were to take that to America’s Got Talent, but it’s a part of Chad’s charm in his music that is not to be underestimated. Some people just naturally light-up a room when they step into it – I’m willing to bet that Chad Rubin is one of those people for certain.
Considering the recent success of artists like Ed Sheeran or projects like Milky Chance – Rubin’s acoustic rhythms & versatile vocal melodies should be a perfect fit out there right in the here & now. LISTEN to the sweeter-than-sweet personal anthem he’s created on the opening track of Brighter Days called “Won’t Stop” – someone tell me why that wasn’t a massive hit back in 2016 when this album came out? Chad sings brilliantly though the layers of “Won’t Stop” and its beautiful melody lines – he’s got such a great way with words, which we already knew from checking out what he came up with on “Alone AF” – but it’s just straight-up impossible to ignore the magic he’s creating in his music in the flow of his lyrics. It’s not just that he makes a memorable melody, he really writes insightful tunes; just take a close listen to the words on “Won’t Stop” and the clever comments he’s making on finding your way as an artist. Amongst lighthearted acoustics, piano, violins and a crisp beat, Chad comes out sounding incredibly strong on his first cut from Brighter Days with bold color in his melody and highly memorable hooks.
His sincerity continually shines through in his music – just check out the title-track “Brighter Days” and you’ll know exactly what I mean by that. It is HARD to have as many hooks in a song as Chad is able to put into a track and still come out sounding authentic when trying to communicate genuine feelings – but that’s where this guy truly succeeds as an artist. Even in a sentimentally-loaded cut like “Brighter Days,” the music is still bright, rhythmic & flashy in its own subtle way – but just because the hooks are sharp & shiny doesn’t mean they have to be disconnected in the final results, and Chad proves that. Dude is a seriously great singer when it comes right down to it…great performer, great writer, great musician overall for sure – but a lot of the appeal can certainly be traced right back to the golden tones he continuously threads into his rhythms, rhymes & relentlessly catchy hooks. “Brighter Days” is a truly celebratory song at the core of its sentiment, embracing love, freedom & the future through the lyrics.
He also isn’t an old guy by any stretch – Chad is obviously still an incredibly spy young man, which almost makes it all the more impressive that he finds his way to such memorable highlights in the way he writes & performs his melodies, like how he chooses to sing the chorus of “Can You Feel Me?” I absolutely love the swagger & style he puts into this smooth jam – and from the perfection in the verse, he drifts perfectly in transition into the chorus of “Can You Feel Me?” I could make an argument for either of the song’s main parts being my favorite, ultimately leading Chad to a balance in “Can You Feel Me?” that really works strongly in favor of repeat listens. He puts a fantastic amount of character & technique on display through his expressive vocals and creates a universally accessible melody that’s certain to last and be a sought-out track from the record for years & years to come.
There are some artists that you can absolutely tell eat, sleep & breathe music…you can hear it flowing right through them when they’re right in the moment…and I’d bet that this is a fair description of Chad as well. Listen to the way he flows through the rhythm of “Do You Wonder?” and how he raps through the acoustic bars with flair, style, tone & plenty of expression…you can hear that the music comes right from within this guy like it was destined to come out of him from day one. The falsetto parts of “Do You Wonder?” give SO MUCH depth to the hook it’s just insane…and that’s like what, the fifth rad thing you’ll notice on the first couple listens? Give it a couple more and you’ll find ten other reasons to love “Do You Wonder?” – but I’ll also argue tooth & nail that those falsetto moments in the chorus create the most memorable parts of this track. Kinda gives it that like…whaddya call it…Maroon 5-ish kinda vibe. That might not exactly be the technical term for it – you’ll get what I mean by listening to it, so do that.
The most innocent, humble and isolated sounds on Brighter Days appear right at the halfway mark in the tender melody of “Don’t Make It Rain,” but it’s its boldest moments that make the strongest impact & impression on us. Introspective as always, Chad does a great job of making his personal experiences relatable through his ability to communicate through lyricism, creating imagery and atmospheres that complement each other extremely well. For me, as much as I was enjoying the first couple minutes, it’s the switch that occurs in the breakdown right as the final minute of the song begins that made all the difference entirely. Up until that point, I was like ‘hey alright, good tune,’ – it was largely the lyrics that kept me interested more than the performance in the beginning stages, but after that final switch seemed to snap Chad right into place with more punch in his performance, “Don’t Make It Rain” really became something special by the end through the significant transformation in energy. It’s such a sweet song when you listen closely to the words…a song about the choices we make with the cards we’re dealt…”Don’t Make It Rain” on your own parade…that kind of thing. Chad’s got a great way of working subtle hints of inspiration and empowering ideas in his lyrics born of his own experiences – and as you can tell from the sincerity in his voice, he’s happy to pass on the knowledge, feelings, thoughts & emotions to you through his music.
Bringing up the drama on “Believers” with a more distinct electric sound combined with the comforting acoustic approach we’ve grown to love in Chad’s music, he dives deeper into a thicker sound for this cut. After the gentle sounds of “Don’t Make It Rain” just before it, it’s a departure for sure, but still the perfect time to make one on the record in terms of its flow. He plays it smart as well by keeping the verse of “Believers” so incredibly damn smooth that you glide right into this track comfortably before he eventually reveals the heavier-side of his sound through the chorus. He’s doing a lot of different & great things in changing his direction on “Believers,” ultimately revealing a whole other set of ideas and sounds we haven’t heard from him yet, providing us listeners out there with yet another dimension of his music. It’s arguably a more ambitious idea…between the way he’s ended “Don’t Make It Rain” and the way he sings the melody of “Believers,” Chad is fast approaching a sound in his vocals that heads towards Bands Of Horses’ territory here, and I dig it. More of that style/sound would always a great thing in my books.
I kind of wonder how much of the same music Chad and I must listen to. I’ve heard multiple moments where he’s reminded me of Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra throughout the record and like, on “Make Me” he finds a solid cross between the flash of Maroon 5 and the earnest melodies of a guy like Josh Rouse. Chad approaches his music with a genuinely comforting style that continually finds a way of being relatable either through the lyricism or the sincerity of the melodies he writes, performs, & sings. “Make Me” is a really interesting cut when it comes to the words and the highly interpretive way that Chad’s written them…you could argue it’s a love-song…ultimately, I suppose that’s still a fair assessment. I’m not entirely sure about my theory, but I’ll take it one-step further – it’s a love-song to music ITSELF and an ode to the impact it’s made on his life. I mean…I’m like, 99% sure that’s what he’s singing about here – and like, c’mon – if I’m right and that’s what he’s singing about, how cool is that? No matter what happens in the details of the storyline of this tune, it’s clear that music has been with him every step of the way – “Make Me” is about the insatiable inspiration and role it has played in shaping the entire course of Chad’s life. Clearly it’s got him headed in all the right directions.
Case in-point, one of the catchiest cuts on the record comes up in the latest stages of the record. By the time you get to “Grow (Or Go)” – the final original cut on Brighter Days, you’ve already experienced a ton of audible reasons to believe in Chad’s music & future as musician. You’re left with two options as a listener really…you could choose to believe that he’s sweat his nuts off in efforts to perfect each one of these tracks, which is likely true – but I think what’s more audible than anything else on this entire record is just how much the music is IN him and how naturally it flows out of him. He always has a way of relating on a personal-level through the way he writes his songs, but this time around on “Grow (Or Go)” he seems to branch out even further outside of his own mind and tap into more socially conscious & universally relatable themes on this tune. There’s a very Postal Service-esque approach to the sound of the second-half of the verse before Chad breaks into a the tender chorus of “Grow (Or Go)” – and I felt like he really kept a lot coming at us in terms of structure and movement as it played on. He’s not like, throwing things at us or anything like that, but like, he switches & transitions from part-to-part on “Grow (Or Go)” like he’s combining about four song ideas into one here, lyrically and musically.
Doubters be silenced! If you think it comes down to studio enhancements paving the way for Chad’s successful sound, he’s found a great way to tell y’all to go pound sand by adding a live performance of “Won’t Stop” in at the end of Brighter Days. What a talent! Listen to that voice! Dude just breathes melody, I’m convinced of it. Considering the complexity of the lyrics, the demands of the flow, the rhythm required for the guitar – you’ve gotta hand it to Chad for sounding as flawless and in-control as he truly does at all times. “Won’t Stop (Live)” is all the proof you’d need as a listener to know that he’s clearly capable of delivering just as much entertainment, melody and heart in his music in a live setting as he can in the studio. It’s a smart move to bring this one back – not only is it a great song to begin with, but it’s clever in the sense that the uplifting energy you get from “Won’t Stop (Live)” at the end could very well be strong enough to convince a few more sets of ears out there to come out to a show.
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