CD REVIEW: Jared McCloud - To Live and Die in Your Arms
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist/Band: Jared McCloud
To Live and Die in Your Arms
Alternative Folk, Americana Rock/Pop,
Weakness: Short Sided Songs, Short Sided CD, EP release, lack of vocal peak and valley
Jared McCloud's natural, earthy tone and thought provoking lyrics showcase his talent and ability to draw audiences into his story. Starting his musical career in "Hard Rock/Metal" bands, Jared decided to focus more on the substance rather than flash and went solo. He released a self-produced record while playing all over his native Connecticut to promote it. Honing his craft in small venues and coffee houses alike, Jared grew his fanbase the old-fashioned way and wowed large music halls with his live performances. During all of this touring, McCloud started to write songs dealing with the struggle of his failing marriage, and following a bitter divorce, launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign to successfully “crowd-fund” a new record. Recorded in late 2013 with Dave Pittenger (Matt Duke), “To Live And Die In Your Arms” is a collection of McCloud’s most personal songs yet.
The CD methodically takes to flight with jumpy intro piece “Cautionary Tales.” This song serves up infectious Americana ambience, against mesmerizing Fiddles, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, well placed harmonies that gently leads you by the hand down the path of Folky musical indulgence. Track 2 “Flicker” shifts gears a bit with its stark intro, impassioned vocal feel and heartfelt lyrical content from McCloud meshed against well placed Harmonica. Track 3 “Hail Mary” is an impressive blues piece that delivers a foot stomping groove that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. By track 3 this CD hits solid stride delivering many impressive and colorful songs back to back. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of a modern day Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, The Flaming Lips, Passenger, Fun and the Goo Goo Dolls. I would classify this music as Alternative Folk, Singer/Songwriter Blues-based Pop with a Psychedelic Indie College Rock aftertaste. The CD at times presents brilliant peak and valley flow via a strong colorful artistic perspective from McCloud behind the mic. Besides the four piece standard you will also notice rich layers of piano, harmonica, rhythm guitar, solo guitar, lush harmonies, low end beats and rhythms, sonic vocals, and enticing melodies - all built on a thick as a brick rhythmic foundation. McCloud showcases a highly impassioned and infectious singing and writing style that takes no prisoners. He's the quintessential artist. His musicianship and compositions are pretty solid across the board as McCloud is clearly letting it all hang out in a fun way with these pieces. All production aspects check out. CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. McCloud has an effective baritone and all harmonies are effective and well placed. I like his power and passion. At times his voice reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan – to go with this I see McCloud as a more modern-day, cutting edge version of Dylan. From invigorating “New King of New England” to rock steady “Pieces” this CD has something for just about everyone. CD ends with Track 6 “Where the Devil Don’t Tread” the perfect bluesy finale statement for a CD like this.
All songs under 3 minutes tend to sound like incomplete statements to me. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases. The full length CD releases is the most complete statement to judge an artist by at any given point in time. Some aspects of the songwriting lack peak and valley dynamic within the piece. The best songs listed above have this In the end - some songs pick up good steam only to end too quickly leaving the listener high n’ dry. McLoud comes on way too strong vocally across the board. I recommend McCloud step back from the mic a bit especially during the slower parts of his music, find that emotional pocket and dial down the intensity and vocal power a bit. This will add more peak and valley to the vocals, more compatible with the flow and ebb of his music.
“For the People by the People” by Jared McCloud is a melodic, impassioned, compelling musical journey. This DIY composer, producer, musician, visionary is making waves for himself beyond just music. At the end of the day McCloud has a lot of potential – but needs to find an experienced Producer that can not only push him in the right direction, but also get the most of his sound. It’s fair to say his best work is yet to come. McCloud gets high marks from me for being himself and letting the chips fall where they may. “To Live and Die in Your Arms” will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want flowing Folksy musical experience to fill their atmosphere. This straight forward, "short but sweet" easy to digest musical format makes for a great musical experience many will enjoy. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the journey takes you.
Cyrus Rhodes Rhodes