Jason Vitelli's No Photographs is powerful and rich; an experience that envelops the listener, revealing more of its gorgeous artistry and depth upon every spin.
Jason, the songwriter behind the curtain, sings a soaring tale of woe through his deep lyricism, spirited performances and compelling band arrangements. His vocals are dynamic and gripping from track to track, beginning with the nasty wail of 'The Worst Thing' and closing with the melancholy whisper of 'Lower East Sigh'.
Incorporating the themes of No Photographs are the musical stylings of blues, folk, hard rock, and jazz.
The blues influence is especially apparent in 'June,' the first single. This song is an epic inspired by the films of David Lynch and is masterful in evoking the soulful riffs of Howlin' Wolf and the sing-speak of Lou Reed. Belting out a mojo-filled refrain, Jason paints a sordid tale that travails throughout the underbelly of dank city streets.
Contrasting this unabashed material are lilting tunes with caressingly soft melodies, many of which express both pain and joy through their subtle phrasing. In the piano ballad 'Apartment,' solitary words shine with hope and desperation, while the cello and vocals waltz in counterpoint, neither finding each other's call to company.
'Morning Sun' meanwhile, is a sunbeam in the clouds, a dreamy saxophone-led ode to the ideals for which one can only imagine.
Jason's good friend and occasional collaborator Phil Robinson guests on the track 'Broken,' lending some plaintive harmonica that suggests a touch of wide open plains under the stars at night, standing in stark contrast to the urban setting of the rest of the album.
Some song arrangements are impressions that wholly shift perceptions. In the dirge to the downtrodden, 'Tortured Lane,' distorted electric guitars spit out angular jabs over heavy drums and bass.
Speaking in no words at all, the instrumental 'Upon the Dead Avenue' conjures spirits through a Djembe-led backbeat and droning tonality.
All in all, this album is a story of impassioned self-revelation. It tells of the struggle between mind and body and couples together the night of despair with the hope of a new day.
This album is No Photographs.