Patrick Noel Russ – Rise Up – EP Review
Alright! Assuming my train is running on time, some of you out there would have heard a few of my thoughts on the music of artist Patrick Noel Russ, in addition to hearing one of the songs from his brand-new EP, Rise Up – and now you’re here, to learn more like the good people you all truly are. We played the opening track called “I Can Take You” from Patrick’s four-track record on the SBS Podcast this morning, and if you tuned in, you would have learned a little bit about the man behind the music, different bands he’s currently in, and the nearly devastating hearing impairment that almost took out his whole career. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the show yet – no worries, you know we’ve got ya covered & you can check it out any time you like – click this link here & you’ll go straight to the show!
On the latest episode of the SBS Podcast, I did my best to draw the line between what Patrick has been through to be where he’s at today, and pointed out that within the spirited sound of his vocals and the lyrics you find on the first cut from Rise Up really speak strongly about the mindset he has today, even if that’s indirectly through his words. The mere fact that it’s such a positive & upbeat vibe proves the entire point I was making, you feel me? Patrick nearly lost his access to the most fundamental ingredient of any musician’s life with his previous hearing impairment, which he miraculously recovered from in-full – can you blame the guy if he just wants to “dance and shout” a little bit? I know I would! Everything about the start of this record seems to reflect beautifully on this whole life experience in all the right ways…like the awakening of the Patrick Noel Russ he’s always been meant to be. Sound-wise, he’s rockin’ in an Americana vein, but you’ll notice endearing Indie qualities and shiny Pop hooks also play a role in a song like “I Can Take You.” For me, this met somewhere in between the gritty sound I love in a little-known 90s act called Cold Water Flat, infused with a seasoned veteran of the game like John Mellancamp or even a Van Morrison…which by my estimation, comes out somewhere in the middle around the territory you’d find something like the warm & welcoming sound of the band Dog’s Eye View occupying. In any event, no matter how you’d define it or what you’d compare it to, I think we can all agree there’s a ton of heart, passion, light & love flowing through this track, yes? Stellar guitar solo, absolutely ESSENTIAL bass-lines, and a singer right up front in the lead that sparkles & shines with open honesty and a welcoming vibe – you factor in key elements like how the backing vocals contribute, the crisp precision of the drums, and the overall friendly sound of “I Can Take You” from the music to the microphone…believe me when I tell ya, Patrick Noel Russ makes it pretty easy for every one of us to love on what he’s layin’ down, you dig?
Lots of positives in a cut like “Hero” as well, and a few spots I felt like Patrick’s still got a bit of room to evolve in the future to follow. Thematically, he’s working with great material – in his own words, Rise Up is “all about summoning your inner strength and resilience” – and “Hero” might very well be the finest example of that concept in action in the most tangible way. Honestly, it’s a lot like the inside of my own head when it comes right down to it – and I’d imagine many of you out there will feel that same connection to the lyricism of “Hero” – it’s about appreciating the little things, the tiny accomplishments we make along the way that add up into the milestones of who we are, being present, and appreciating the very moment you’re in, because you are indeed a “Hero” just for being here with us today. At least, that’s what I’m getting outta what Patrick is singing about…you might have a different take on it, but to me, this cut was all about taking a moment for some critical self-evaluation, but also serious self-love too. So don’t get me wrong – thematically, I’m diggin’ it and I’m with Patrick…the concept of “Hero,” as a whole. Line for line…I just think he’s got extra space is all. It’s tough to say – I think people out there will really appreciate the way he works with the rhythm & flow of how “Hero” moves from start to finish – and the melody pattern that his vocals follow…but those same pauses & pivot points you find as he sings are also the opportunity for more words & additional description to exist. It’s not crucial…it’s just an observation…he’s a singer/songwriter, and I think he’s still got a bit more in the tank that he could potentially reveal in that regard – but I also think a lot about the Rise Up EP in general is about feeling & appreciating the moment. With respect to that, something too heady or involved would seem like a much more odd fit than what we hear in the more straight-ahead, unfiltered & honest way Patrick muses in his own natural way…so perhaps it’s six or one-half dozen of the other; it’s just something to consider. The bass-lines are lean & mean…the guitar chimes in with real personality…the trumpets add an off-the-charts level of cool to this song whenever they show up, and you get a healthy dose of’em right off the drop as “Hero” begins – but also one of the strongest highlights around the 2:30 mark later on down the road too. It’s catchy as far as the hooks are concerned, the vocals are rhythmically sound even if the lyrics are still a little sparing, and perhaps most importantly, it’s got the consistently uplifting spirit and vibe that Patrick wanted to create throughout the lineup of songs he’s written for his new EP.
The musicianship on this whole record has been simply outstanding from start to finish – listen to the bass-lines kickin’ up a smooth storm once again on “Out Here” will ya? It’s played such a huge role in the success of these tunes and how much their inherent rhythm captures our natural interest – the bass has been providing a steady & reliable glow and a fantastic dose of musical personality since this whole EP started out, and I’m lovin’ it! “Out Here” is one of those tunes you’ve gotta stand back and admire for the beautiful sentiment & perspective it has…this is what I was alluding to earlier on – the man that Patrick Noel Russ is, is all right here within the details of the music and positive attitude you’ll find. He’s encouraging unity, togetherness, and forward thinking…all very upbeat stuff that seems to me, would be pretty strange for someone out there to hate on, you feel me? You don’t end up writing a song like “Out Here” being a glass half-empty kinda person…I suppose that’s what I’m sayin’ – Patrick is ever the hopeful optimist, and it’s downright charming & sweet, every bit as much as its entertaining on a track like this one. Those BASS-LINES THOUGH…deserve an award here…listening to this song slide right into the main hooks of its chorus all movin’ & groovin’ as it does…I mean…it’s just a pure joy to listen to a cut like this that gets to the heart of happy sound without crossing the line into being something cheesy. What you’ll hear instead, is sincerity in its purest form – that’s what Patrick is all about & who he really is – he’s here to keep ya entertained, sing for ya, and dream out loud with you too – and when you listen to the words he’s written into “Out Here,” not only will you find they’re some of the best you’ll find on the new EP, but you’ll also likely come away feeling like you wish it was guys like Russ here running this floating rock we’re all livin’ on. It’d be a much more beautiful world to live in if he was in charge, that’s my take on it. If someone out there wants to get the hashtag of #PatrickNoelRuss2024 goin’ I’ll happily back ya from way over here in Canada…but I ain’t starting it up myself…just in case…I don’t want to be the dude that lures him away from making music when it sounds as naturally suited for his personality. He’s callin’ out to the dreamers on “Out Here” – and he sure makes it sound worthwhile to join him in the spectacular bliss he’s sellin’ – I know I’m with him, so how about you? Are you up for making this lifetime of ours better than it was yesterday by what you put into it today? Right on then – join the fun!
Ending with an audible affirmation, or mantra to guide him on the pathway forward, the chorus of the final cut “All I Need To Be” repeats the main line of “I am all I need to be” – which I’d imagine is both something that Patrick needed to remind himself of at times, just as much as it’ll serve as a message that many of you out there need to hear as well. I’ll admit – I’m still hearing that space inside of Patrick’s lyricism for him to grow and evolve – in a way, as much as I’d like to say he’s adhered too closely to the rhyme scheme here, I felt like he happened to end up pretty lucky in the sense that he didn’t really have to compromise what he was looking to communicate, like so many tend to when writing with this style of approach. You can get trapped into finding the word that rhymes as opposed to the ones that really say what we’re looking to say…like I said, I think it works out in Patrick’s favor this time around, but I am hearing enough evidence throughout these four cuts to still advise a little bit of caution in that regard for the future music to come. Even when we find what we think is the right word – especially when it DOES rhyme & seem to fit snugly…we can end up in themes & terrain that has been mined & explored in-full throughout music’s history if we’re not too careful to mind our own uniqueness. Ultimately, “All I Need To Be” is right in line with the record’s entire set of values, attitude, and demeanor…so like I way saying, it’s all just stuff to consider for the future – Patrick walks that fine line between communicating openly & honestly and not quite adding enough into the details lyrically, but I felt like he managed to stay on the right side of the line when it comes to the context of this EP and its final tune. At the end of the day, it’s still really tough to want to complain about a song with such sweet sentiment and humble perspective…and I don’t…so I’m not really, I’m just observing. Patrick’s flashed real moments of powerful connections between him and the music he’s making, and I felt like there was still more than enough of that to be found in “All I Need To Be” at the end, magnified even more in the way he nailed the chorus of this cut so brilliantly. We can tend to overcomplicate the heck outta our music anyway if we’re not too careful…and like I’ve been tellin’ ya, a lot of Rise Up is about feeling the moment, pure, simple, and plain – at the end of the day, that doesn’t require a whole lot of bells and whistles, so much as a steady & reliable personality you can connect with, which Patrick has got through & through. The real magic is in the conviction folks – that’s what really matters at the end of the day…you don’t need fancy-ass descriptions to make a lasting impression, you just gotta make us believe in what it is you’re singing about – and that’s where Patrick genuinely excels every single time. The main hooks of “All I Need To Be” are undeniably strong, don’t get it twisted – the chorus might even be THE highlight of all highlights for at least a few of ya listening out there, and I wouldn’t blame ya at all for feelin’ that way. The consistency Patrick has displayed throughout these four tunes is immensely satisfying overall…you wouldn’t wanna toss any of these songs outta the lineup, and it’s just about as hard to cite any one song as being that much better than the others – all of which, I think also speaks volumes on behalf of the mindset of the man behind the music right now. He IS all he needs to be, his songs have all they need to have, and he’s more than happy to have YOU all with him on his journey.
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