Brilliantly composed neo-soul track featuring near-magic musicianship
Dublin, Ireland – It’s difficult to describe, but if you’re a musician (or can seriously say you have an appreciation for music), you know that there’s unique magic begotten during certain performances.
It’s not a science; it’s not totally controlled or controllable. It requires intentionality, but it happens almost of its own accord. It’s an energy, chemistry, a natural result of the conflict and cooperation among skilled musicians – soberingly profound and startlingly vibrant at once. It’s the creation of new life.
This magic, it almost goes without saying, is rare. But Chris Comhaill’s shapeshifting project Front Row Seats has it, and “On My Mind” is proof.
The Dublin-based project’s newest track is a neo-soul showcase of incredible instrumentation that bottles near-magic musicianship within the confines of a track that lasts an almost-too-short six minutes and 51 seconds. The song opens with the project in easy-groove mode, with the lead guitar (Chris Comhaill) tracing a melody over a series of jazz chords filled out by bass (Paul Feery) and keys (Luke Howard), and paced by steady drums (Adrian Waldeck).
Around 20 seconds in, things roll into a smooth fill before hitting a stop that introduces Waldeck’s remarkably soulful vocals.
“Take my time to enjoy the view – You know it always looks better with you”
Waldeck’s delivery fits the track’s mood to perfection; the lyrics are consistently drawn out with a trailing vibrato that somehow manages to feel easy and earthy at once. His lower register offers a foundation for a plaintive but full falsetto, which he runs into and out of to great effect.
The track’s magic simmers for the first three minutes, but really takes on a life of its own around the 3:20 mark, when Waldeck finishes a chorus and the instruments fill in with their own discourse. First, Comhaill’s guitar enters, skimming a few lines over the top of keys and bass as if to test the waters. Finding an opening, Comhaill opens into full-throated runs, his guitar’s distorted notes both challenging and uplifting the rest of the group. The musicians pull back after about a minute, and now it’s Howard’s turn to drive, his shimmering keys setting the stage for what soon becomes a fervent Rhodes solo. And then the guitar is back in the conversation, too, in dialogue with the keys until, finally, Waldeck’s vocals bring the ending chorus around.
All told, “On My Mind” is a stunningly vibrant offering, lifted by catchy composition and virtuoso performances. For the project, it’s a stunning showcase of creative range. For the listener, it’s a ride-along experience with masterful musicians that feels both exhilarating and as natural as breathing.
Again, it’s magic. And, as is always the case with the magic that arises from music, it’s better experienced than reading about.
“On My Mind” is the second single from Chris Comhaill’s shapeshifting neo-soul project, Front Row Seats, following the project’s first release, “Golden Ticket”. The earlier track, an instrumental tour de force, is potently groovy, lo-fi jazz, packed with piano-driven soul and representative of the new project’s impressive dynamism.
“I wanted to have a project where I could collaborate with great musicians and vocalists to bring what I hear in my head to life and to realize my compositions,” explains Comhaill. “For me music is about community and connection – with other musicians and with the audience.”
Recorded at Temple Lane and Sun Studios in Dublin, “On My Mind” was engineered by Johnny Branagan and mastered by Fergal Davis. It is scheduled for release on September 28, 2022.