Ky Baldwin – Dare To Believe – EP Review
Well would you look at & listen to this guy! Ky Baldwin has already discovered his passion for music and seriously tapped into his talent at his extraordinarily young age; he’s only sixteen now, but he’s already putting out his SECOND record – can you believe that? Not too many people out there that can make the same claim…and even if they could, chances are they haven’t put as much heart and soul into the effort as Ky has. He writes his own melodies & material, he makes his own videos to support the songs; he might be young but the caliber of his writing and quality suggest that he’s far beyond his years already and well on his way to a long & successful career as a musician. Normally I’d try to end a statement like that with something dramatic like, ‘if he WANTS it’ – but after learning about all that Ky puts into his music and how much he enjoys the process & craft…I think it’s pretty safe to say that the fact is, he is loving every minute he spends making music; it’s something you can hear in his songs. He clearly wants to reach that all-important next-level and any quick read through his social media or websites will likely prove to you that Ky is already outworking most musicians to get himself there.
After listening to his new Dare To Believe EP, it’s certainly easy to understand where all the buzz, support, enthusiasm and love surrounding Ky’s music is coming from. This guy can write a hook! Much more than a hook really – Ky writes seriously well assembled melodies and dance-rhythms that hit the mark and have a really widespread degree of appeal to the masses out there. No help from a team of songwriters remember – he’s doing this on his own…and I’ll fully admit, for 16 years old, it’s all highly impressive material and all executed at a startlingly professional level. Ky Baldwin has the ‘it’ factor.
Now…of course, I have to be honest with Ky just as much as I would any other artist out there. If he’s going to go ahead and write songs light-years beyond his own age then he gets the full adult treatment from me – that’s only fair right? When Dare To Believe started-up with the cheerful pop-acoustic sound of “Little Miss Perfect,” I thought one thing. Then when I heard the title-track to follow, and I thought something completely different. Let me explain…
So let’s get one thing straight right off the bat – Ky starts out his EP with extremely vibrant energy – and that’s a GREAT thing…the hooks in “Little Miss Perfect” are massive and his performance is spot-on. I’ve heard a bit of his previous record as well; the improvement upon his past music is already completely noticeable. Ky’s confidence level is up, he’s got more experience…his writing, sound and execution have all stepped-up for the songs on the Dare To Believe EP. The guy sings his heart out on “Little Miss Perfect” and delivers the hooks with perfect energy to match, completely highlighting the fact that up-tempo dance-inducing tracks are certainly an asset he can rely on in his style & songwriting. Now here’s where it gets tricky…because “Little Miss Perfect” also sends several messages upon a first-impression – one of them being the appeal to the younger crowd out there…fine folks that are much younger than the grey in my beard qualifies me to hang out with, know what I mean? And in a sense – it SHOULD sound like that…Ky is after all, still in his teenage years…he SHOULD be having this much fun with his music and I certainly wouldn’t discourage him from doing something he clearly does so well like the up-tempo vibe and fun you find in the sweetness of “Little Miss Perfect.” All I’m saying is consider the audience and how widespread it is out there…because you don’t want some old guy like me coming along, hearing “Little Miss Perfect” and potentially dismissing the rest to follow as probably more ‘young people’s music’ as they grunt and head off into the garden. Where it gets trickier…is that I like the energy that Ky takes into this first track, and in that sense, it’s hard to argue it should be replaced; that’s not what I’m doing. What I’ll say is that the maturity-level of Dare To Believe instantly rises with the title-track to follow and several of the songs afterwards…more or less, the most youthful sound you’ll hear on this EP is on display in the very first track. Does he prove right away that he can write a song that people will want to turn up with “Little Miss Perfect?” Absolutely yes. Great rhythm to his vocal-flow, great tone in his voice…it’s pop as it gets, but he SOUNDS like he believes in every word, giving it a sweet sincerity that genuinely connects. Even as an old-guy, I dig it – but I’d also be lying to the guy if I didn’t admit I loved what he’s done on “Dare To Believe” even more – that’s where he sold me entirely.
Right from the very first seconds of “Dare To Believe,” with just the piano and Ky’s vocals as it began, I knew I was in for not just a good song, but a great song, immediately. This is where it became clear to me that Ky is already living his dream…maybe fame and fortune will come, maybe they won’t…my hunch is that they will find him – but I also suspect he’ll be just as happy either way as long as he can make his music and do what he’s doing right now for the rest of his life. The songwriting instincts for structure, cadence, emotion, flow…are…pretty much mind-blowing when it comes right down to it. Listening to the commitment and tone of Ky’s vocals on “Dare To Believe” is a complete privilege as far as my ears are concerned…you could go through about 1000 performers and singers out there in any given studio before you’ll find ONE that sings with the confidence and professionalism that he already HAS – at 16! I really like the sound of the lower-notes in his register in the laid-back, emotional & expressive nature that he approaches the beginning of “Dare To Believe” with – and I love that the guy already knows exactly where to pivot the structure of the writing to introduce GIGANTIC moments that connect like you’ll hear as the chorus begins to his title-tune. The maturity in Ky’s writing is undeniable here – the appeal is remarkably universal…even though it’s a slower-tune, I think the way “Dare To Believe” resonates right through you gives it a major shot at finding an even wider audience than the opening cut.
So…again…by the time I got to the second song, he already sold me beyond a reasonable doubt…all “Invisible” managed to do other than completely impress me once again was simply confirm what I’d already concluded – this young man has got a massive future coming his way. LISTEN to the incredible way that “Invisible” is put together! I mean…if music all came together as smoothly as the sweet sentiment of this track does, my job would certainly be a whole lot better…I think the more sparse atmosphere in the music here really works wonders. A ton of ‘why’ “Invisible” works so incredibly well rests squarely on Ky’s shoulders and his partner in this duet…there’s more space in this song by comparison to the rest and it was up to them both to deliver – and they do. I thought Ky nailed “Invisible” with one of his strongest performances, further revealing the tender-side of his personality…but REAL…relatable…sincere. It’s writing that deserved his all when it came time to perform…and it’s a testament to his respect for the process that sees a song like this go from an idea on paper & a melody in his head to such a successful recording in the end result. His falsetto parts on “Invisible” are absolute perfection…the way he sings the chorus drips with sweetness in a contrast of blissful sincerity and melancholy, realistic observation. Any of these three songs could easily be considered single-worthy – but I know a timeless sound when I hear one, and Ky’s already got that on full-display for all to hear with the stunning job he’s done on the chorus and melody that exists on “Invisible.” If that hook and the way he sings it doesn’t convince you that he is well on his way to a long & successful career as a songwriter…time to get yourself a Q-tip and clean them ears out…because it’s as clear as day in the quality of writing & execution that Ky brings.
“Summer Song” was a great bridge in between his youthful sound/style and the professional approach to music that he consistently puts into his material. When you hear a song like “Summer Song,” you can hear that, if Ky wanted to shop this kind of tune around, it’d be snapped up in a heartbeat by someone like Carly Rae Jepsen or a Katy Perry out there…it’s got that wild & bright mix of energy and uplifting spirit that people ALWAYS seek out in music at some point in their lives and all the makings of a hit. That’s a completely current sound that Ky is rocking on “Summer Song” in all its Pop-filled glory – the background vocals serve the song just as strongly as the lead does when it comes to the hooks, and once again, that’s all Ky you’re hearing from the front to the back. Dig the production on this cut and really like all the elements that surround the lead vocals from the music to the clever background vocals that punctuate the energy and complement Ky’s lead parts at all times. Dare To Believe was released in September of 2017 if my notes are correct here…so “Summer Song” hasn’t even had a chance to test itself out when it’s in-season yet; you’ll want to turn it up in the other ¾ of the year, but I can definitely buy into the idea that many a person out there will crank this catchable groove up through the roof and declare it the official anthem of summertime. You’ll hear this tune floating out through open windows and into the open air in the summer of 2018…mark my words – be ready for that!
Now…I’m not one for dancing personally…so naturally, “Just Dance” was the hardest track for me to get right into – BUT – I think any time you hear someone right in their element, there’s a magic to that. Ky owns “Just Dance” and puts in a great performance once again that is equal-parts Soul, R&B, Pop, Funk, and all-out good times. He’s got the rhythm & groove on this cut and created what’s likely another high-energy song that’ll catch people’s attention for its vibrantly enthusiastic and pumped-up attitude. I think you also get another dimension of Ky’s sound & style overall here on “Just Dance” – it is noticeably different from the other up-tempo tunes on Dare To Believe…a bit more of a nod to the old-school rhythms and dance-jams out there, which is what I’m sure he was going for on this tune. Whether dancing is my thing, your thing, his thing or anyone else’s thing is almost beside the point anyhow – the important thing, is that he goes right into another facet of his sound with just as much confidence as the rest…and it’s because he’s so sure of each moment along the way…because he BELIEVES in his talent and abilities, he can take us right with him, every time, no matter what the style of the song is.
As a 16 year-old young man – Ky has displayed all the makings of a serious superstar…and he’s put in a massively commendable effort from start to finish. He’s stayed true to the enthusiastic spirit and vibrant imagination of youth through songs like “Little Miss Perfect” & “Just Dance,” and he’s also put forth some songs that shine a bright spotlight on his natural talent & ability to write stunning songs like “Dare To Believe.” The ride through the EP has had brilliant examples of high-points in energy and more emotional, down-to-earth moments…the latter of which, he’s got one final dose of…and it’s AMAZING. Bar none – the final cut is Ky at his best…I get chills when I listen to “Goodbye.”
We can all sit here for hours and argue over the merits of Ky’s up-tempo and youthful spirit – he does ALL that undeniably well and quite honestly, he could likely make a career of that…if he WANTS to.
Awww you see what I did there? Clever writers like me like to call that ‘coming around full-circle (the ridiculously long route too btw) to a point that you thought I wasn’t going to make way back when, but had actually totally planned on coming back to it the whole time from the very beginning.’ At least I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term for it. I digress…let’s move on…
What I’m trying to say – is that Ky has the freedom to choose. He can clearly take the easy road and has already displayed a mastery of what makes Pop music work through the incredible hooks he’s consistently written…he can DO that. Or…he might just want to examine tracks like “Dare To Believe,” “Invisible,” and the final gem of the record, “Goodbye,” and lock into the highly memorable, timeless style of songwriting he’s latched onto there. Because what you’ll hear in “Goodbye” isn’t just good – that’s GREAT…or whatever’s beyond GREAT or at least in a bigger font-size…Ky’s seriously written a song that pretty much every songwriter out there in the world would be proud to call their own. “Goodbye” had my jaw on the ground and my full attention every time it came on – best lyrics from Ky on the record in my opinion…he’s does an excellent job throughout Dare To Believe, but this…THIS…is just purely stunning. “Goodbye” is such a powerful and exceptional ending to a record…such a memorable experience of its own…I’m almost lost for words but to say that this is essentially a song I’d always have time for. He’s more than allowed to take his time and have his fun…and like I’ve already said, the sounds of songs like “Little Miss Perfect” and “Summer Song” will lead him straight to the top of the charts, I have no doubt about it…but if he wants to LIVE on those charts, week after week, it’s going to be the strength of a song like “Goodbye” that’ll keep him there. So that’s all I’m saying Ky…you know…just examine, mine and explore that intangible, magical and indefinable quality that makes “Goodbye” stand out more than any other…and then like, you know, do that another 1000 times for us all will ya? That’s more than a song – “Goodbye” is a moment in time I will literally never forget.
I’ve got every confidence in Ky because he’s given me every audible reason to Dare To Believe – he’s already an amazing songwriter…the idea or notion that he’s going to get even BETTER from here just makes a person shake their head, wonder & marvel at the limitless possibilities and potential in an artist like this. Talent like this will always find its way…but when you combine it with the tireless attitude and relentless enjoyment that Ky clearly has in his connection to music…there’s just no keeping it a secret. He might still just be getting started on this journey overall, but make no mistake, he’ll go the distance – Ky Baldwin is gonna be huge.
Find out more about Ky Baldwin from his official page at: https://www.kybaldwin.com/