2.02.2009

Max Vernon; Bait and Hook


Max Vernon has a vocal instrument that is deep and resonating, its clear tonality has reach and depth of maturity. With a signature voice he delivers piano driven melodies with a broad lyrical palette of intelligence. At twenty years old he composes music that can move in many ways like the Woody Guthrie of Pop to make a bold comparison.

Max Vernon’s lyrics leave an indelible impression. Using dynamic melodies in a pop format he subliminally infiltrates the listener with smart content. His bait and hook got to me immediately. He employs words that move, words that drive the discussion, words that can be subtly subversive and delivered with a tongue and cheek attitude. Topically he is current but it is his intellectual curiosity that captures the subtleties and irony in the topics/controversies of the day. But wait! All this is delivered in the most beautiful manner.

He plays the piano with such ease and fluidity, melding Jazz, blues, Do Wop, cabaret and adds tou
ches of frivolity with classical escapades that are diced into song construction.
Getting recognition from his delightful cover parody of Katy Perry's " I Kissed A Girl" is a strange way to find Max Vernon’s music. But it has been the vehicle for attention even though it was sort of a goof that he decided to record and make a video. Attention has come his way. As I am writing this a release party for The Guilt by Association Volume 2 featuring danceable cover songs is at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. His cover is in good company.
Sinc
e he doesn’t have an official release he has chosen to share recordings and demos on a site called The One Sixty One. On You Tube he shares stripped down footage of piano and vocal in a variety of homey settings and the practice studios at NYU.

His most ambitious recording to date "A Good God Is Hard To Find." He infuses white collar crime, in god we trust, and proposition eight all into the same conversation tying these thoughts into a round of ecstasy embedded harmonies. How is that possible? But he does it.

Along similar lines is “Dear Democracy”. The heavy piano bass chords set the tone while he spews an operatic diatribe of political criticism ending each unnerving injustice with light sardonic classical notes, singing / I already know that I’m going to hell / so I’m having a party / a party.

"When Your Body Breaks" is an orchestrated production with female vocal backup Caitlin Pasko AKA (Lacrymosa), cello, violin, church organ, and flute. Giving a boost of encouragement for the depressed whose memories are tainted with grey. / Oh you deserve better than that / and you’re gonna have it / your body’s breaking / you’re left with just your mind / you’re gonna be fine / but it’ll take time….It will take time…

The Song "Pastels" is like poetic cinematic score. Singing about two people trying to find meaning in these troubled times / don’t criticize us /. It really pulls the heartstrings in the chorus / but I’ll be with you / you know / and when you fall down / just hit the ground running / and I’ll be running with you / running with you. He concludes interchanging running with you with take me with you. Ahhh...... I'm such a romantic sap.

In September 08 he was about to headline Ars Nova Uncharted Series. He wrote to me saying he found my Blog through some degree of separation after looking up the history of the series he found both Novice Theory and Langhorne Slim which lead him to me indirectly.
I am so glad he reached out to me so I could discover his music and fall in love with it.

He closed his letter to me with "If you get a chance please give my songs a listen. Hopefully you'll dig it."
Dig I did!


For now he continues his studies at NYU
Gallatin School of Individualized Study graduating in May. The future looks bright and I look forward to it all.

Photo Credit: Nico Apo
Visual Art by Max Vernon "The Queen" 2008

No comments: