CD REVIEW: The Sun Harmonic (Kaleb Nathaniel Hikele) - Season
By Cyrus Rhodes - 03/18/2011 - 12:37 AM EDT
Artist: The Sun Harmonic (Kaleb Nathaniel Hikele)
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic Singer/Songwriter
Sounds Like: Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Jason Mraz. Live
Technical Grade: 6/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Safe, Window, Stir
Weakness: Dry production, lack of musical depth.,
Toronto based singer/songwriter Kaleb Nathaniel Hikele or The Sun Harmonic releases his latest CD entitled Season in 2010. Hikele is no stranger to the music business. After years of unveiling high school punk bands, an indie-alternative rock trio, & an expanding collection of original music, Hikele has indulged in releasing his ninth recorded project. Hikele is an emerging musician with acoustic-folk sound and alternative rock & roll roots.
The CD gently takes flight with “Story” a melancholy acoustic intro piece that serves up solitary vocal delivery from Hikele that is passionate, up front & personal. This rather short intro piece merges right into Track 2 Puzzle” which keeps things moving along the intimate path with solitary acoustic guitar ambience & Hikele vocal passion front & center. This track along with Track 3 “Wait” are both striking pieces that flow & ebb their way through to emotional fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, & even Live. The actual musical format is very intimate, & is an up close & personal snapshot of the artist. The songs themselves are very naked & personal with messages revealing the highs & lows of life, love, passion, & naked vulnerability. Overall the catalogue is extremely conservative & at times even melancholy. Besides the voice & the acoustic guitar you will also notice some amazing chops & impressive bluesy style riffs thrown in the mix. The acoustic guitar playing abilities from Hikele are impressive, catchy, conservative & in the pocket. His voice is just as impressive & I might add his falsetto is quite amazing. Hikele takes many vocal risks throughout this production indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. The lyrical content is extremely revealing as all songs cut deep to the core. From powerful “Apology” to upbeat “Safe” to melodic” Stir” to striking “Again” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Song” the perfect final statement for a CD of this caliber.
Hikele is on the right track with these songs as they are striking & captivating, but there are risks you take when delivering a bare bones musical performance such as this. It’s fair to say more musical depth is often needed to compensate for the open space. Again I can’t help but wonder what some of these songs would sound like with other musical elements behind them. Instruments such as a pedal steel, mandolin, harmonica, fiddles, viola, stand-up bass, cello, piano, banjo, percussion, Hammond Organ, slide guitar, & electric guitar would add a much needed musical dimension & would not compromise the earthy, conservative approach. Due to lack of musical depth the production goes down a bit dry. It takes an amazing amount of talent and skill to deliver a bare bones musical production such as this. Hats off to Hikele for taking all this on, but in the end of the day, this CD just sounds like it's missing something. I would strongly advise Hikele if he does take my advice to also incorporate professional recording, mixing, & mastering engineers on his next production as well.
Overall Season by The Sun Harmonic is a striking & compelling musical production. Its strong suit is its overall consistency, lyrical wisdom, & bold straightforwardness. Make no bones about it folks; it took raw honesty to write & perform some of these songs. What I like most about Hikele is there is no attempt to hide how she feels, or sugar- coat the truth. I really admire artists out there who are themselves and just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that has the courage to show us something real and genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Hikele is one of those artists. If I could say anything to Hikele right now it would be - add a bit more musical flavor to your next production. This can be done without losing the solitary musical foundation. You've also proven how effective you are at entertaining the listener with just an acoustic guitar, your voice & your songs. Imagine how deadly you would be with just a bit more musical textures. The real selling point for any song is the (singer to listener) emotional connection. Here experienced artists will execute and make this connection every time. It cannot be faked and has to be totally genuine. At the end of the day people don't buy plastic and paper, they buy emotions. Hilele delivers in this department 10 fold. Hikele will work best on days you want a delicate acoustic sound to fill your atmosphere. Oma would have been impressed.
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