EMBI – Evolution – EP Review
It’s been a journey for artist EMBI to be here today. All in pursuit of his dreams of becoming a full-time professional musician – the Italian born man made a huge move to the USA; from there he’d go on to graduate from Berklee’s College Of Music in Boston and eventually relocate to L.A., where he’s now based out of. So make no mistake…that’s commitment right there is what that is. We’ve all met those people that can’t even be bothered to get up off the couch for five minutes let alone travel and uproot themselves to a whole new country to pursue their goals – safe to say that EMBI isn’t a part of that crowd. Making a move that large, all in the name of music…well…you know that scores big points with me – I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone out there that can commit like Michele Beneforti can. And no – I didn’t just pull a name out of thin air to suit my narrative – that’s the man responsible for the music of EMBI. He’s definitely a…let’s say ‘excitable’ character behind the scenes…but to be fair to the guy, who wouldn’t be excited & stoked to put all that knowledge & talent to use and get their debut record out into the world? If you’ve done it, you remember the feeling.
Like most artists in debut, there’s still plenty of room to grow – but in terms of potential to catch the attention of the ears out there, EMBI’s already on really solid ground. Evolution is filled with Pop, R&B, Jazz, Funk, Neo-Soul & more – it has tons of flashy sound & stylistic moves that’ll definitely have people noticing the music on this record. Maybe a couple moves here & there that make the writing or music more challenging than he might be seeking out when it comes to the listeners out there, but for the most part, you’ll follow right along with EMBI as he puts versatility & charm into the vibe of this EP.
The smoothness begins immediately as EMBI glides & slides right into the opening cut “Highway.” I think he’s put in solid ideas into both the verse and chorus, the transitions, flow, production, performance – it’s all there and right on display instantly once “Highway” kicks-in. Beneath the flashy Maroon 5-like surface of this tune and the vibrant pulse it has on top – listen to the layers happening in the background that play a key role as well…EMBI is one seriously wicked guitar player as well and he’s riffing it up in behind the main hooks. If anything, I suppose I could have used those up a little bit in the mix – but I know that’s more me personally and my addiction to instrumentation – for the masses, he’s made the right move by keeping the musicianship subdued and controlled in this opening cut. It’ll help the people get right in to the sound of EMBI without hesitation…the balance on “Highway” works as it is right now…if you want to listen below the surface-level hooks, the rewards of digging deeper are certainly there – and if you’d rather just pay attention to the rhythm & flow at the forefront, you can do that too. If you’re lucky – you can (and should) do both. No doubt about the fact that “Highway” starts the EP crusin’ off with bold sound, style for miles, and fresh energy in the performance that leads EMBI to stellar results and a fantastic first impression. I love the samples he’s used throughout the song as well…like moments from a graduation commencement speech, inspiring the people out there to go after their dreams just like Michele has. People will connect with that for sure…it’s an uplifting start!
If I had to pick a single, I’d say it’s “Over & Over” every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I mean…this is just oodles of cool wrapped up into one seriously tight tune that delivers 100%. Michele makes a serious impact on the mic with a performance that can’t be denied – the rhythm & flow of his vocals fit this entire vibe exceptionally well and lead him to outstanding & memorable results. Loved the jazzy nature of the bass, piano, backing vocals…everything you’ll experience along the journey through “Over & Over” seems to roll right through your speakers like it was all meant to be there. You might even start to get the idea that, hey, this EMBI project really seems to have it all under control! Expertly supplying sounds that connect and get your body movin’ – “Over & Over” takes the sound of EMBI into a nearly Jamiroquai-esque smooth funk – and you’ll get no complaints on that from me. I think this was definitely a style/sound that really worked on this EP and left me with zero doubt about just how strongly “Over & Over” would connect with others out there as well. All well & good to know what a song may/may-not do for you on a personal level – but some songs are just entirely universal – and I’d argue that “Over & Over” is one of them. Who wouldn’t get into this cut? And how could they resist if they were able to? Show me a person that didn’t dig on what EMBI’s come up with on “Over & Over” and I’ll show you a stone statue in return…everyone should be able to get down on a cut this cool. And as IF it somehow needed MORE assistance in its quest for awesomeness, the rap laid down by featured guest Spnda is an immaculate fit, highly skilled, brilliantly spit, and raises the stakes of the song even further. I don’t exactly know HOW Spnda managed to do it – but he somehow took what was a completely single-worthy tune and gave it even MORE crossover potential & appeal than it already had!
In the middle of the record, the atmospheric ambiance of “Brooklyn Lights” creates an incredible mood in the music that hangs in the air brilliantly. If anything, Michele might have out-written himself from verse to chorus here; I really like the stylish way he sings the verses of “Brooklyn Lights” – chorus-wise, the hooks are still well written even if they weren’t my own personal favorite from the Evolution EP. I think he’s done a great job on the lyrics of this cut…great imagery in his words and a noticeable nostalgic feeling that floats through the spacious atmosphere EMBI creates for “Brooklyn Lights.” I think the guitar sounds absolutely stunning – the tone is off-the-charts cool and the final solo of this song/the way it ends over the final thirty-seconds or so was something I felt like I could have easily listened to for another ten minutes straight. I think that…not only do I feel like the focus shifts towards the lyricism on “Brooklyn Lights” – but I also feel like that leads to some of the biggest highlights from Michele’s vocals. You can hear that genuine connection to the words here…he sings them like an experience unfolding right in front of you, sparing no details, & authentically getting to the heart of the emotion of this tune. I think that chorus…for me, maybe it took the song into a vibe that was a bit too bright by comparison to the heavy emotions that run deep through the verse – but I respect the quest for balance, and I can also recognize that while the chorus might not have been my own favorite part – it likely could be for many.
“Fantasy World” might be an example of where EMBI takes the art one step past that degree of accessibility that he’s likely seeking out with the masses, but strikes a solid victory for the art itself. There’s a lot to love about this tune…I’m simply stating that with its more clever pace & timing, that’s usually going to throw a few people that dig their straightforward verse/chorus/verse 4/4 stuff – but if the end results come out this unique, I’d certainly encourage EMBI to continuing pursuing challenging material like this. In many ways, I think this might be the most impressive cut on an EP that’s clearly full of solid highlights. That first explosion of sound as EMBI bursts into the chorus makes a massive impact – no matter how many times I spun this record, that moment always stood out as extremely memorable. The punch in the production/performance/writing is executed with a master’s touch – the drums sound brilliant, the guitars are as unreal as ever and further towards the front of the mix. The multiple-parts & directions that EMBI pursues here all have their own sharp hooks along the way throughout the song-structure. That’s where things get completely interesting here on “Fantasy World” – he’s working with about four or five song’s worth of ideas here and found an insightful way to bring it all together in a song that’s just as complex to listen to as it is compelling. I love the bass, love the keyboards, the vocals, the writing, the tempo, the transitions – ALL that is without question, great stuff to experience & listen to…there’s a real set of fresh ideas on “Fantasy World” at work that keep the entire song vastly unique from the rest on the Evolution EP.
The Blues-inspired guitar solos that soar wildly through “Fantasy World” are 100% exquisite to listen to – and there is STILL another huge reason to listen to this cut that I haven’t even mentioned yet! I’ve always said that many artists/bands out there have an incredible ability to communicate through the samples they choose – and this is an example that’s about as good as it gets. If you want to really know what the message of a song like “Fantasy World” is all about and what EMBI is ultimately trying to get across to you – listen to the way this song finds its finale and what it has to say. Borrowing a clip from Charlie Chaplin’s infamous speech in The Great Dictator was a brilliant move and smart addition to this song – but again, beyond that, I think it really speaks to the fantastic intentions, sentiment, and insightful way that Michele looks at life, humanity, and the way we should all be treating each other.
What is not to love about the final track of this record, “Cocoa Eyes?” What a jam! Taking a moment away from the mic – EMBI gives you a solid reminder that he’s an entirely well-rounded musician and a serious talent on the guitar as well in the highlights of this last experience on Evolution. I think EMBI has proven to be a great singer with real personality & charisma at multiple points throughout the first four tunes on the Evolution EP – but if I had to pin down this man’s ultimate strength…there’s a 99% chance that I’d choose the way he plays guitar. Seriously – Michele’s still a young dude – it takes a LIFETIME for most people to form the connection he already has to the guitar…his technique & tone are as amazingly professional and precise as it gets – and even better still, the passion is there at all times. While he gives you a taste of his abilities at various moments throughout the first four songs on this record, “Cocoa Eyes” puts his musicianship straight into the spotlight – and the results are SO STRONG you’ll wonder whether or not an instrumental career might be just as valid of an option for EMBI’s music overall. He’s literally spoiled for choice…he can clearly pull off the flashier sound & style of Pop/R&B/Soul hooks – but then you hear a song like “Cocoa Eyes” and your ears immediately seem to say ‘YES – this guy should be doing THAT on the regular!’ Must be nice to have the option to do whatever ya want when it comes to making music – the versatile talent & sound of EMBI could take Michele anywhere he wants to go. I could listen to this final cut all day every day…the bass & guitars are as sick & slick as it gets – the perfect finale to a diverse set of ideas & tunes from a capable new talent out there in the music-scene.
Make sure to find out more about EMBI at the official links below!
Official Website: https://www.embiofficial.com/
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