Heartour’s songwriter and creative engine Jason Young has spent the last few years carving out a musical niche in the modern scene for music that simultaneously embraces time-tested fundamentals and the possibilities of the current moment. His fifth release under the Heartour banner, R U IN, begins with the track “Brain” and finds Young serving up immediate notice that traditional music fans will be hard pressed to discern a plethora of predictable turns on this ten song release. Electronic instruments dominate the songwriting on this album, but Young brings those textures to glorious life rather than miring them in the stereotypical inertness common to electronica in lesser hands. Young isn’t remaking the songwriting wheel with these tracks, but there are no obvious reference points and the chorus for this recording is one of the album’s strongest.
“Refill the Fountain” has near-funk bite in electronica form. The slinky thrust of the music gives Young an arrangement he can physically commit himself to in full and he doesn’t disappoint. Young brings a high level of focus to the composition of these tracks; there’s never any sense of him overextending his creative vision and it ultimately comes across as if he knew exactly what sound he wanted to achieve before committing a minute to the recording. The audible certainty behind his creative vision is a major factor in determining the album’s quality. The third track “Let the Robots Drive” rates as one of the more atmospheric tracks included on R U IN thanks to post-production effects on Young’s voice and interesting percussion that imbues the performance with a pensive heartbeat throughout the course of the song. Young’s strong voice stands out once again.
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Another of the album’s strongest tracks is the song “As Far As We Go”. It has a comfortable stride from beginning to end and Young’s vocals rip out the lyrics with tempered relish. He never over-exaggerates for effect but clearly understands how to use his voice in a forceful way. There’s a cocksure spirit coming through this track as well that many listeners will find infectious. “Eye on the Ball” is uncluttered and more sonically compact than many tracks on this release but no less satisfying. Young shows a great deal of songwriting imagination by taking a well-worn phrase for our everyday lexicon and fashioning a distinctive personal statement from it.
“The Persuadable One” is another of R U IN’s better songs. This has a darker musical edge than the preceding cuts without ever striking any sort of different stylistic note – it’s no simple trick to step a little outside the mold while still recalling your base sound. Young consistently shows flexibility as a songwriter and it shines here with a performance boasting sturdy musicality and ear-catching lyrical content. He ends the release with the elegiac overtones of “Baby Spiders” and its foreboding imagery places it at odds with yet another near buoyant musical arrangement. This frequent juxtaposition of moods is one of the chief strengths of R U IN in and he closes the album with one of the best examples of this contrast at work.