Craving Rain – Craving Rain

 Craving Rain – Craving Rain

Craving Rain – Craving Rain – EP Review

Way back in January before the world got locked down, I had the pleasure of interviewing Craving Rain’s Jasmine Wietzke.  With a debut EP being released on the horizon, it was clear the plan for 2020 was to attack and stir this music-scene on up a bit, you dig?  Crazy to think that just about two months later the entire damn world changed course into the madness where we currently reside, and just how truly different things are now already…it’s jussssst a bit tough to get out there on tour and support a new record at the moment.  So on the one hand, my heart sincerely goes out to bands & artists like Craving Rain that were planning on taking over the world over the course of 2020…but on the other hand, I’m extremely thankful that a band like this has the courage to release a record when it’s virtually impossible to get out there & support it live, and the empathy to know we could all use music like theirs right now.

And just because they can’t get out there onstage right now doesn’t mean Craving Rain can’t dominate your playlists instead for the time being.  Or afterwards.  I’m stoked to tell you guys about this record!

Look…I’ve made no secret about the fact that the breakup of Jasmine’s previous band This Day Burns was ALMOST as tough on me as it was on them…I loved the music that they created and still do to this day.  And though it was certainly Wietzke’s voice that first pulled me into the music of This Day Burns and created that initial memorable impact on me through a song called “Every Hour Wounds” – I grew to love & appreciate all the players in that band pretty damn quickly afterwards.  Great players, killer energy, savage sound…like I said, it was a tough one to see collapse when it was all over from a fan’s perspective, but I had confidence that they’d go on to different projects & be snapped up quickly by the scene, which they were.  Jon went to a kickass band called Tip The Scales, Chris eventually went the solo route as The Heretic, Skye was last seen rippin’ it up with Vaultry before they eventually disbanded as well – and of course, Jasmine went on to form Craving Rain as the new vehicle for her musical talents.

Why I’m going so far into the past is to make a point…just because I know & love ya from what’s come out before doesn’t necessarily mean I’m always going to love what happens in the future of your music, know what I mean?  In a savage Alt-Rock setting like she had in This Day Burns, Jasmine was like…like…well, like a complete microphone slayer – she commanded songs with massive power and vocals that put her on my radar for LIFE…so what were things going to be like now that she was in an acoustic based project?  Let’s be clear…my faith in Jasmine and her songwriting never wavered – I knew there was a great chance I’d like whatever she did next…but I’ll admit, I had questions about how it was going to end up sounding like by comparison to what I knew…and I had no idea at first if I’d end up liking this EP as much as I do.  Once the lead-single “Jealousy” was released, many of those fears subsided, and I felt like Jasmine was already on solid ground in her new project – everything sounded fantastic, we did the interview, and here we are, the self-titled EP is out and available and ready for your awaiting ears right now!  And that’s the whole condensed history in one-shot for ya, you’re all caught up, 100%.

With the hint of the crackle of a record spinning, the opening track “Family” immediately caught my attention because I love that sound…the songwriting & performance was what retained my interest.  Honestly, as a longtime fan of Jasmine’s music, hearing this first cut sent a shockwave of thoughts through my brain…the most significantly being, just how well-suited she is inside the acoustic sound of Craving Rain and how comfortable she seems in the spotlight now.  I mean…straight-up…I’ve heard a lot of her music throughout the years from recordings to live performances to YouTube videos…and “Family” immediately felt like a singer reborn, all over again, in another environment she’s clearly able to completely thrive in.  Right off the drop, “Family” reveals that you’re about to be in for one of the tightest sets of tunes she’s ever put out, and that the power & emotion you love in her voice doesn’t have to be subdued or suppressed within an acoustic atmosphere…she’s crushing it with one of the best performances I’ve heard from Jazzer.  And that’s saying a lot – I’ve witnessed many great things from her in the past for sure, but this very first song confirms there is still so much more to come from her in the future.  If it sounds like this, believe me, I’ll be listening – and I’m sure there’s a ton of you out there that will be right there with me on that.  Beautifully played by guitarist Lucius, hearing the boldness in Jasmine’s vocals reach their most intense moments and then dial-back into a much brighter set of sounds and hooks was…honestly so unexpected and absolutely freakin’ fantastic to listen to!  As if that wasn’t enough on its own – how about the switch into a bluesy, soul-filled sound in the opening song’s biggest transition from where it all began, just past the 2:30-ish mark somewhere?  Amazing!  I love it, because literally the first time I heard that switch I was like, oooooops…did I get a bizarre file here?  But nope…it was all done with purpose, and makes for a wicked change in the whole direction of “Family” – you hear the recovery, switch, and transition and it brings a huge smile to your face – they’re fully in control.  Like a great many of the best-of-the-best singers out there, it’s not always about what Jazzer is singing – in fact sometimes the direct allure or biggest hooks will come through the more scattered & free vocalizations where she’s completely free to sing straight into the open with whatever sound or tone is in her heart.  Controlled & cool mind you…I’m not saying that she takes the freedom for such a wild ride that you can’t latch onto it…she’s singing major hooks, just not always in words – you feel me?

“Anonymous” adopts what seems like a more apparently epic & serious set of vibes instantly; you hear this song drift in quickly with the wind, the clouds part, and the journey begins.  Powerful imagery in the words, the verses of this second cut keep you fully engaged & listening to how this story unfolds…and if you’re listening closely, it sure ain’t as pretty as it all sounds.  That’s definitely a part of the overall magic in Craving Rain…we talk a lot about contrast in music and how effective it can be, and this project is a prime example; whether it’s the slightly sunnier demeanor of the brightest moments on “Family” or the more Alternative-inclined captivating beauty in a sound of “Anonymous” – there are plenty of darker & deeper things happening underneath the surface and the more you dig, the more you’ll get out of it.  If I had to pin it down before I’d ever listened, I feel like how “Anonymous” came out was more or less the exact assumption of what I thought Craving Rain might sound like with Jasmine’s vocals in an acoustic environment.  Naturally, it works brilliantly…the combination of worlds of sound here, with Wietzke’s Alternative-inclinations and the bold acoustic guitar work form Lucius definitely hit the mark.  It’s intense, it’s dramatic, it’s gripping, and it’s still subtle in noteworthy ways…almost like you can hear this duo on the edge of exploding for the majority of this tune.  The major payload exists in the chorus of this cut with Jasmine singing one of the most powerful performances she’s got in any of the songs on this record…or at the very least, she’s unafraid to command the lead on “Anonymous” and carry the weight of this vibe, story, song, and lyrics on her shoulders as she belts out the big notes to make an impact.

Personally, I think “Fuck The Distance” was probably the most surprising tune on this EP.  I mean, it’s not like we expected the electric guitars or DJ decks to come and join this acoustic party at this point…which of course, isn’t the case – but I was almost expecting a cut with a more in-my-face attack attached to a title like “Fuck The Distance,” and instead you’ll find this is one of the more serene & beautiful tunes on Craving Rain’s EP.  There’s the ever-present Alt-twist on the sound that Jasmine’s always likely to have in her music, but this whole song is likely a helluva lot more calm that people would expect from its name.  And I’ll say this…it’s not just the impact of surprise – “Fuck The Distance” is a magnificent & mesmerizing experience you don’t wanna miss out on…there were many times where I’d spin & repeat this record since I got it and feel like this tune might very well have stolen the show inside a lineup of four remarkably bulletproof songs.  All things said & done, there’s not a thing to be taken away from any of these songs…there’s no criticizing a record as well-executed as this one is…but c’mon now folks, I’d be lying to ya by omission if I didn’t recognize the full-on awesomeness of a song like “Fuck The Distance.”  Jasmine actually reminds me a lot of Matthew Good on this song…maybe more specifically, the slow songs that I loved from the Matthew Good Band, before the whole solo thing.  I still think the dude’s a killer songwriter to this day even though what he’s doing now isn’t really my jam…but those early songs in MGB had such an understated magic to them…alternative melodies that weren’t typical by any stretch of the imagination, just like this one here by Craving Rain and how Jasmine chooses to sing “Fuck The Distance.”  Bonus points for reminding me also of one of my 90’s favorites, Tanya Donelly, when she switches it up around the 3:30 mark into a moment that sounds like it could fit right onto Belly’s Star or King records.  That’s hallowed ground and the highest of praise in my world – Jasmine sounds all-time amazing on “Fuck The Distance” and gets a jaw-dropping performance out of herself here…she should be seriously proud of this spectacular song and the sparkling beauty it possesses.  It’s a dark beauty, always, but beautiful all the same and no set of ears out there could mistake it for anything less.

Honestly, the songwriting is every bit as impressive as the performances are…hearing the way Craving Rain will take an idea and find that extra way to twist, morph, and change the direction of a melody while still somehow retaining the whole framework of a song in such a cohesive way is freakin’ applause-worthy people.  No joke…listen to the way the lead-single “Jealousy” navigates, maneuvers, and shifts between a grounded & bold acoustic sound, and graceful ethereal vocals; it’s more than impressive…this is essential to your playlists if you wanna somehow consider 2020 a complete year.  I’m probably always going to advocate on behalf of a song like “Fuck The Distance” as having that extra something special that we’ll never define – but I’d never dispute the choice that’s been made in having “Jealousy” out there as the track that pulls people into this album as the lead-single.  Ultimately, this song sits somewhere in between the worlds of sound we’ve experienced along the way…somewhere in between the Alternative-tendencies of a song like “Anonymous” with the artistic integrity of a song like “Fuck The Distance” – that’s how I view “Jealousy.”  And if that’s the lens to use…or similar to the way Craving Rain was looking at things, then hey, great choice on “Jealousy” – it’s a good way to introduce the people out there to the Craving Rain sound without giving away all of the secrets that make this project as awesome as it is, all at once.  Plus as far as Lucius’ guitar-playing goes, I think you get some of his inarguably best work on this final cut…though to be clear, the man’s done a great job from the very first note forward on this self-titled EP.  Having departed the project pretty damn close to the end of recording this record…no lie, it’s gonna put a bit of pressure on Craving Rain’s newest member Tyrell Beal to make sure the follow-up album comes out as strong as this debut EP has…just sayin’!  That’s the kind of pressure that can form diamonds though dear readers, dear friends – from everything I’ve heard about Tyrell so far, he’s more than up to the challenge and quite the gifted musician himself as well.

No matter how you slice it or how the future shapes up from here – it’s undeniable that Craving Rain has soared to extraordinary heights with the content on this debut record and material that is stronger than steel.  Obviously after everything you’ve read about the history of Jasmine’s music, you know I’ve always been a fan – but truthfully, even if I wasn’t, even if this was my first time experiencing what she’s capable of…this record would have still landed her firmly on my radar once again.  As hard as it was to say goodbye to her old band This Day Burns, the music they made will always live on and speak for itself; it’s projects like Craving Rain that prove Jasmine’s got so much more as an artist to share with us all, and that all the reasons we loved her vocals & songs to begin with can absolutely thrive in an acoustic realm.

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