It's rare to find a pop artist who can also write convincing lyrics in a sophomore album. So many new artists have managed to pull together amazing freshman releases — the contents of everything in their lives leading up to that point. But to be able to pull together a solid second album sometimes seems too difficult and quality falls to the wayside. Tough to cram a lifetime into a year or two, with so many other things screaming for attention – producers, concerts, press, fans…
So to listen to Tyrone Wells' Remain and hear so many solid songs with thought- and emotion-provoking lyrics… it just doesn't happen often.
Wells worked with a variety of artists, songwriters, and musicians to craft a set of twelve solid tracks. In the UK, he worked with Martin Terefe (who has worked with Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall, and James Morrison) and Iain Archer (UK artist and Snow Patrol songsmith). In the US, he worked with Tim Myers (former member of OneRepublic), David Hodges (former member of Evanescence), and Matt Scannell (Vertical Horizon). As a fan of Mraz, Tunstall, Snow Patrol, Evanescence, and Vertical Horizon — I have to say this is quite a pedigree of talent.
In 2007, Universal Republic released his album Hold On, which was originally his first independent record (following Snapshot in 2003 and Close: Live at McClain's in 2005. Universal Republic saw the opportunity to release the album more widely as his first major label record.
Songs from these albums have found their way into film and television soundtracks as well, so he's getting some great exposure. So far he's had tracks show up in One Tree Hill, Everyone's Hero, Rescue Me, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs and many others. I suspect that we'll hear many of the tracks from Remain in popular media as well.
For me, what works for Wells on Remain is first and foremost the lyrics. And with those impressive lyrics, you then have his solid soulful voice that just lends each word credence. Add to that great arrangements utilizing acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, and a well engineered pop feel, and you have a heck of a musical offering.
My two favorite songs on this album are "Sink or Swim" and "In Between the Lines" — each of which has a solid heart. "Enough" is another relationship song that, just in time for Valentine's Day, could prove to be the anthem for love in these uncertain economic times. And "Drifting" is probably one of the more soulful songs on the album.
"Sink or Swim" speaks to finding a relationship that gives you something to hang on to. And one verse in particular spoke to me: "Hearing the song in your laughter / a melody I chase after / no one else has done that to me".
As a writer, "In Between the Lines" speaks to gaining ground one word at a time with almost a Chris Daughtry feel. And again, the words speak for themselves "Another broken song / learning the labels, lessons, and fables / I forgot / Under the surface, lost in the verses / There is a rising tide / We're trying to rescue the meaning / if only for tonight". Amen brother. One day at a time.
I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more of Tyrone Wells in the days to come. Remain deserves airplay on radio stations across the country to give us a bit more to hope for. Great album. I hope he continues to grow as an artist.
3. Losing Ground
4. Sink or Swim
5. In Between the Lines
6. This is Beautiful
7. All Broken Hearts
9. Along the Way
11. Before it Started