Guitar god Brady Novotny shatters the barrier between artist and audience in his new album Passions Collide and extinguishes the notion that rock guitar as it was introduced to us some half century ago is dead and gone from our modern existence. Within just the first seven seconds of the eponymous opening track, Passions Collide is obliterating us with a tizzy of swirling guitars, smacking us with a thick bottom end, twisting and turning in every unpredictable direction. Living in the grey space between contemporary rock and classical music, Novotny presents us with grandiose rhythms and fierce tonality that anyone who enjoys a sweet lick will have a hard time resisting.
The sensuous and exotic “Heart’s Fine” is one of the more playful, easygoing numbers on the record, but its harmonies are anything but passive thanks to the beefy mix that accentuates them. “Blue Rose” is a little less in our face, but still flexes a bit of muscle towards the finish line. It’s nice that while Passions Collide cohesively plays as a complete piece of music, the songs have individual sonic profiles to match the depth of whatever style of attack they showcase. That’s critical to making an ambitious LP like this one work, but clearly Brady Novotny already knew that.
Texture is not usually the biggest communicator in any given album, but for Passions Collide, it just so happens to be one of the most moving components in the music. “Redemption’s Cry” isn’t defined by its lyrics or even by the strenuous play of Novotny that frames the song in temperance and restraint; it’s the graininess of the master mix, which surreally emphasizes the mood of the verses without ever contributing a word on its own. The same can be said of “Blue Rose,” as well as the instrumental songs “Cara Bella,” “A Classical Prelude” and “Soul Harmony.”
Passions Collide appeals to fans of any kind of music in all actuality, but I don’t know that it was designed to be an open-ended concept piece on Novotny’s part. Everything about this record feels intimately personal to me; the cascading notes that pepper “Ancient Romance” in emotion scream nothing but tortured realizations and self-awareness from where I sit, while the gush of noise that is manipulated into a sleek anthem with the title track is representative of catharsis at its most unbridled and free from human guilt. I’m sure you’ll walk away with your own interpretations, but that’s the beauty of this record – it’s a bold work of art that is completely subjective and untethered to fleeting trends in our impatient pop culture.
On every level, Brady Novotny shines in Passions Collide, giving us an exclusive, up close and personal look inside the studio with one of indie music’s most ingenious talents. Novotny goes off in this record, never holds anything back and crushes it every time, all while making it look remarkably easy. I really hope to catch him live at some point in the near future; considering that he can get this crazy within a cramped and confined space, he’s almost certain to light up any other venue he enters, big or small.