Hailing from the northeastern United States, Kevin Carroll doesn’t exactly seem like the prototypical urban dwelling alternative rocker. Any such preconceptions should be tossed out the door. His debut album The New You, cut with little help in his soundproofed living room, is a bid to have his voice heard in a crowded musical world. He has the individuality and skills to get through. The three songs from his debut included on his Soundcloud page are likely excellent representatives of an effort that drinks deeply from the wells of nineties’ alternative rock, but likewise rages and bulls ahead on the power of its own convictions and with a distinctly modern edge. This is music that cuts through steel, but does so in a highly artful way. This is music that doesn’t pander and has no fear about veering off the expected path in order to conjure up different results.
“A Picture Perfect Jealousy Issue” serves immediate notice of Carroll’s capability for rock. The guitars are geared to bulldoze listeners, but they are never unmusical. The mammoth rhythm section attack gives Carroll an ample foundation for blasting away on its six string and the song is laden with a number of flamethrower and lightning bolt lead lines. The lyrics bring a distinctive point of view to a subject matter otherwise well mined by earlier songs and the blistering musical thrust snap into place around it. Carroll has an unique voice for this type of music – his emotional side is palpable, but he brings hammer-like muscle to the performance that more than matches the sonic storm raging around him. “The Higher I Am With You” doubles down on the pulverizing muscle he brings to bear on the opener. There isn’t a lot of variation in the guitar attack, but there doesn’t need to be. Instead, it charges over you and embodies every bit of the intensity described in the lyric without ever reaching too far for effect. It’s an equally powerful vocal performance, probably outstripping the opener, and he reaches every high standard set by the arrangement. If this isn’t the best track on his Soundcloud page, it’s close to it and makes a tremendous impact.
“In the Commercials” incorporates a number of inventive tempo changes and riffs away with more clarity than any of the earlier tracks. There’s a nicely turned expansive edge to many of the passages in this song, but they keep the balance struck in a satisfying way. Carroll’s vocals are joined by some double tracking here, but he never needs it. He sings with every bit as much conviction here as he does on the preceding numbers and only the changing tempos prevent him from achieving the same focused effect that the earlier songs reach. Kevin Carroll’s songwriting and performance style is inflamed with an intensity that you can’t duplicate. The sound and fury he summons up in these three songs is a sure of an indication as you’ll hear his first album The New You is a bracing listening experience.