EP REVIEW: Andrew Abaria - We are the Underdogs (EP)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Weakness: Winded Songs, Vocal Delivery, More Instrumentation
Andrew Abaria is a Los Angeles based Asian-American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who infuses his twenty years of classical piano training into pop music. A graduate of USC’s Thornton School of Music, Andrew is inspired by the likes of Queen, Billy Joel, and Adele, and blends these influences with his classical music background to create a fresh orchestral pop sound. The new EP entitled We Are the Underdogs was released I 2013.
The EP quickly takes flight with “Boulevard of Broken Hearts” and powerful piano driven intro groove that serves up catchy vocal melodies and pop ambiance from Abaria. Track 2 “Can’t Stand the Fall” shifts gears with its gripping vibe with heartfelt vocals and grand slam chorus from Abaria. Track 3 shifts gears a bit with my personal favorite “Kiss Me Till They Find Us” with it's methodical musical build eventually evolving into a solid pop-rock groove with clever lyrical content and impressive playing to boot. All in all an amazing piece. This song serves up a hypnotic musical beat meshed against impressive catchy accents along the way. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Billy Joel, Marc Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Michael Buble, and even Barry Manilow. This EP makes a pretty solid first impression. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of warmth, variety and strong melodic structure. Abari's musicianship behind the Piano is never once called into question. I would classify this music as catchy pop rock, with a slight classical aftertaste. The songs themselves are addictive and upbeat, complete with positive, carefree subject matter. The musicianship of this band is pretty solid across the board. The players themselves write and play there parts extremely well song for song. Make no bones about it – these are solid players. Along the way you will notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also catch impressive things well placed Piano, solo guitar, strings and an impressive rhythm section. Abaris’a voice works well across the board as he fills the sonic space peacefully and unobtrusively. I might add Abaria takes many vocal risks indicating to me a strong and confident vocal ability. He has an impressive vibrato and appealing vocal timber. All songs are short and sweet musical experiences. From passionate “Silent Tonight” to grooving “We are the Underdogs” this EP has something for just about everyone.
If could say anything to Abaria right now it would be step back from the mic a bit on some of the slower parts, find that emotional pocket and ride down the intensity just a tad. I really like the voice, the passion and the powerful vibrato and timber, but it’s fair to say he comes on way to strong across the board. His power can be overbearing at times and become a real wear on the ears almost as if he’s slightly over singing. Sometimes undersigning is better I also wish I head more instrumentation throughout. Things like Acoustic Guitar, Hammond Organ, Horns, Saxophone, Harp, Percussive elements, vocal harmonies would add more musical variety to the catalogue making it sound less repetitive. All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I'm not crazy about the cover art extremely over the top and cheesy looking. I also typically deduct 1 star for EP releases as the full length release is a more complete snapshot to judge an artist by at any given point in time.
We are the Underdogs by Andrew Abariai is an impressive musical teaser from start to finish. The music is consistent; the messages are powerful and sung from a very emotional perspective. It’s strong suit, the rich conventional wisdom and musical passion of Abaria. He possesses enough musical talent and songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. It's obvious to me he's World Class Pianist and songwriter. The musicianship is first rate and the messages are packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom offering some hope and compassion for all along the way.