Kazyak’s third release and first full length album Reflection is an eight song collection and obvious result of a band and songwriting investing considerable time in sharpening their skills. Peter Frey is the band’s songwriter and shares guitar duties with Andy Wolfe. It’s one of the album’s most important partnerships and the first song “First Do No Harm” highlights their potential, but the vocals are another important highlight here and elsewhere. This first track also makes it clear listeners are dealing not only with an individual musical identity with this band, but Peter Frey’s lyrics also set them apart from the pack. The lack of any musical wasted motion is shared by his often poetic and imagery laden turns – everything in these songs is functional and never ornamental. “Talking to a Stranger” has an unique confluence of musical elements cohering into something quite like anything I’ve ever heard – a quasi riff on Pink Floyd’s influence crossed with clear echoes of bluegrass. The banjo playing on this number uses the instrument in ways I don’t recall hearing before.
“Androcles” will be a favorite for many. It’s a song that could have ran the risk of pretension, but Frey writes with such keen eyed clarity for telling imagery and suggestive storytelling he avoids any hint of such weaknesses. Instead, “Androcles” resonates has enough of a snake-bit destiny feel in its story that you can relate to what’s going on – if not in a personal way, enough so you share a common reference point with the track. The vocal is inspired, as well, with ever overreaching. “No Tattoo” has a steady amble from the outset and a glittering mix of acoustic guitar and synth fills wafting throughout the arrangement, but Nick Grewe’s drumming keeps the song tethered to musical earth and gives it added shape.
The synth effects on “Belmonte” are ghostly, aquatic sounding at points, and always seeming to bubble up from the mix, but acoustic guitar is the driving instrument behind this tune and works well in concert with a fluttering vocal often double-tracked and echo heavy. It seems like Kazyak is intent on pursuing one line of musical attack, but their inclination for changing things up in surprising ways brings a late peak to the song and explores a handful of tempo shifts. “10,000 Flowers”, however, does follow a path with less variation, though Kazyak can’t resist tweaking the audience’s expectations even with this curtain closer.
It’s one of the album’s finest vocals as well, reaffirming the strengths of earlier performances, yet expanding on it in a low key and emotive way. Frey captures all the regret, shaky hope, restitution, and abiding love we have for those we have lost due to our own follies and insecurities. It’s a good end to an album with an immense beating heart and the humanity present in every song gets easily gets under your skin thanks to the first class musical vehicles Kazyak has at their disposal for Reflection. It’s a rarity in another way as well – it bears up under repeated listens and will likely so for some time.