Sad But Sober – Soundcloud Songs – Singles Review
Considering the fact that Sad But Sober just started releasing music online this year, you gotta appreciate how cohesive the style of sound he’s chosen to work with is – it’s music with a genuine perspective…based in Hip-Hop and fractured emotional atmospheres haunting the vibes he creates. As with any artist making their way into the scene, there’s still work to be done and space to evolve – but in terms of ideas, focus, skills, and a designer sound rooted in melancholy…dude’s got something real solid started out here. Don’t get me wrong, most of these tunes are sad AF…I don’t wanna give anyone the impression they’re about to be in for fast rhymes & good times – this ain’t party music by any stretch; but not everything should be to begin with – it’s just not the typically uplifting thread in Hip-Hop most people expect. I’m not entirely sure what’s bringin’ these emcees down out there lately, but just like we learned a couple weeks back listening to Ace A CAped CrusAder’s latest record Lonely A – these slower, sadder, more emotionally self-aware sides of the genre also really connect in new ways as well. So while I can’t argue that it’s gonna necessarily be music that’ll bring a smile to your mug – I can vouch on behalf of the quality of the ideas and sound itself…projects like Sad But Sober and Ace A CAped CrusAder are definitely providing us all with some audible evidence as to how the genre is actually shifting right now.
Alright…so…I lay these singles out there in the order I’ve got’em in front of me and tell ya how it is, Sad But Sober style. First two things that’ll hit ya are positive aspects for sure; one of which is that the music immediately makes an impression, even as low-key as it is, it’s got incredible texture and definitely creates a powerful vibe to rhyme on – and the other is that the theme of sadness is instantly revealed. I mean in “Second Hand Smoke” as a song…obviously the sad part of Sad But Sober is probably something we should all be assuming is gonna be part of the mix in this music here. But coming out with “I don’t love nobody, not even myself” as a first impression is a statement of its own, you know? And that’s the first thing we’ll hear from this emcee in this experience & set of singles…it’s clear the man has been through some struggles, hard times, and heartbreak recently – he ain’t pulling punches when it comes to how direct the lyricism is. As devastating as it can be sometimes, that’s a positive aspect of Sad But Sober – the lyrics & bars are there. Where Sad But Sober has room to evolve & improve is finding that tone that’ll suit the music he’s working with – because stylistically, thematically, & content-wise, he’s got genuine identity…these things all come out strongly. Going back to the initial line we hear on “Second Hand Smoke” that I was just referring to, you can immediately hear that dissonance in the tone of voice contrasting with the tone of the music; the idea is fine, it’s that match of tone he needs most. Essentially right now he’s working against the music, rather than with it, you feel me? Flow-wise, he’s on-point…ain’t no issues there either; and clearly there’s an effort being made for a particular style of hazy swagger – and I’m cool with that too – plenty in fact, I think it’s probably the most important and defining aspect of Sad But Sober’s music…but that tone’s gotta find its way there too, or there’s no doubt this project will run into a tough sell when it comes to the listeners out there. You can take that comment for whatever ya like – I never claim to know everything & if you look at the wall full of positive comments on his Soundcloud page supporting “Second Hand Smoke” you’ll certainly think I’m the crazy one of the bunch. We all hear things in different ways, that’s facts – but we’re also willing to support artists in different ways too – for some that’s support & love and for people like myself, it’s encouraging artists/bands to be objective in assessing their material and finding ways for them to push forward.
“A Girl Named Morgan (Broke My Heart So I Wrote A Sad Song)” gets it all a bit closer to the mark for sure. Vibe & atmosphere-wise, don’t get me wrong, just as strong as the first experience with “Second Hand Smoke” and the two-tracks to follow – like I’ve been saying, the vision & focus thematically are super strong…I’m talking more on a vocal-tone level here. The music itself has a bit of a lower-end tone to it, which helps because it suits Sad But Sober’s natural tone of voice & vocals that much more; it makes a huge difference in terms of a song’s overall accessibility. And like, listen to moments around the fifty-five second mark heading into that set of bars there, where Sad But Sober’s using layers to support the vocals…harmonies-wise, between them, the vocals sound great…and that might be something to look at, because that comes out as a real powerful sound that connects from the m-i-c. Does Sad But Sober need an excuse like a girl named Morgan to break his heart in order for a sad song to get written? I sincerely doubt that homie, but nice try. After checking out the catalog of tunes online from Sad But Sober beyond the ones I’ve got in review here, I can definitely tell ya that a sad song can be written by this project for any reason at all – so be ready for that, just so happens it’s Morgan’s turn when it comes to this particular tune. All that being said, perhaps it’s that more personal-level of realness that has Sad But Sober sounding more spot-on tone-wise and genuinely feeling this vibe. Whatever it is, “A Girl Named Morgan (Broke My Heart So I Wrote A Sad Song)” ends up connecting much more solidly than that initial experience with “Second Hand Smoke” – ain’t no doubt that Sad But Sober is choosing extremely smart beats & music to work with that set the atmosphere in place like a heavy cloud in the sky hanging over your head on these tunes, but highly effective. The chill movement of “A Girl Named Morgan (Broke My Heart So I Wrote A Sad Song)” is excellent, the details & imagery in the lyrics and how Sad But Sober raps’em out are quality all-around…relatable, real, raw…it’s all that.
On “Hate To Be You,” a smart & subtle guitar-led melody works magic with harmonics along the way as the beat keeps a slight pulse in the background; minimalist ingredients but a highly effective atmosphere you can feel hanging suspended in the air. I’ll admit…I have no real complaints here…though I was back & forth on whether or not that was the case. Ultimately I look at it & listen to it like this: lethargy is a tough sell. And don’t get me wrong – I ain’t implying laziness, that’s not what I mean at all – I mean energy-wise between the mic & the music overall. It’s not like Sad But Sober has written “Hate To Be You” to get the party started – I get that…but it can be hard to keep the people’s attention when it sounds like the main star is nearly fading in & out of it all himself too, you feel me? I ain’t sayin’ impossible…like I said, eventually, I felt like I came to dig the hazy flow & vibes of “Hate To Be You” – maybe a slight tone here & there that could be slightly more rounded out, but in a track like this one, you’d be trading that studio-smoothness for some of the realness you get in this sleepy idea. But that’s what I mean when I say it’s a tough sell…ask just about any singer or vocalist out there & they’ll tell ya it’s not the big notes they struggle most with, it’s keeping that tone on-point when the music goes away or becomes its most low-key…that’s when it’s tough to get the power into the mic to keep the tone where you need it without being able to use that push the vocals with the energy you wanna use. Style-wise, Sad But Sober stays cohesive to the artistic-side of misery, mixing thoughts on love & drugs into a melancholy cocktail that moves precisely, slowly, and hypnotically. That last part is a key factor here – there’s a real mesmerizing & hypnotic element to this entire vibe that ends up working more magic on repeat; a perfect example of a song you can’t judge from just a couple spins, but multiple. The more you listen to “Hate To Be You,” the more I think you’ll appreciate the angle, vibe, & idea he’s going for here. While lethargy & haziness can often be a tough way to get the masses amped up, there’s still massive redemption found in the fact that slower vibes and moodier tracks like this have always been there for people when they need them most…that ‘right song for the right time’ kind-of-thing. On a more personal front, Sad But Sober’s catalog plays like an out-loud journal and steep venture into a much needed catharsis – so when it comes right down to it, “Hate To Be You” might not just be there for you at the right time; it might be there for him in that same way. It might be in writing these sad & reflective songs & recording these thoughts of his that becomes his own way of dealing with the struggles of life, love, and the daily grind – it’s clear that Sad But Sober has a lot on his mind and a lot of weight on his heart & soul that’s crushin’ him slowly but surely – music might very well be his way out.
Taking love on an international trip through the sweetened sound of “When You Wake Up,” this first experience with Sad But Sober ends on what is likely both my favorite idea & performance on the mic. For what’s such a melancholy dude, the slightly brighter vibes on “When You Wake Up” actually suit him really, really well. I’m not gonna say that the sun starts breaking through the clouds and all the rain just disappears all of a sudden – it ain’t like that – BUT, it is a bit more calming, soothing, comforting, and even sentimental in Sad But Sober’s own unique way. Lyrically, I think the game gets stepped up here – “When You Wake Up” is a bit longer as well, so there’s more of an opportunity to flex that here; same thing goes with a more involved sound in the music…creates more dynamics to latch onto as listeners. Mix-wise, there’s excellent stuff happening here once again…the low-end combined with the melodies you find floating scattered throughout the atmosphere really suits the style of the flow from the mic; and that final switch towards the end adding in that hollow distance through the reverb on the vocals of Sad But Sober was an excellent way to send this track out on a highlight. Why I say “When You Wake Up” could very well be my favorite idea in this set stems from its own innate charm and crossover sound; this is a tune where I think that, again, were Sad But Sober to smooth-out the vocals 100% on this cut, it would probably lose ALL of the magic and reasons I think it works so well. That hazy, just-opened-up-your-eyes feeling comes through the way he delivers this song on the mic…and with the details in the words, it all fits in the way he spits this one. And for real – like, I listen to plenty of Rap & Hip-Hop…music of all-kinds of course as a reviewer…but while a track like “When You Wake Up” is certainly rooted in those genres – it’s actually the Indie-music side of me that this song appeals to most. How like, sometimes you’d discover slow gems on albums from Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone…they’d often not be ‘perfect’ songs so much as they were perfect moments in time that create an impact you’ll never forget. I got lost in the hazy vibes, swagger, and hooks on “When You Wake Up” – definitely a strong song in the Sad But Sober catalog and a solid example of a space out there in the music-scene where a heartbreaking, sad, & sweet sound like this can truly thrive for sure.
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