Vinnie Caruana – ‘Aging Frontman’

By Andy Joice

When the front man of a much loved band releases solo work, it usually goes in one of two ways – identical to a full band release, or in a totally new direction. The Movielife and I Am The Avalanche’s Vinnie Caruana manages to tread the line between the two.

With the release of second solo EP ‘Aging Frontman’, Caruana is less explosive than on a Movielife record, less frantic than an I Am Avalanche record – but what he heavily pushes is honesty and artistic expression. It’s a release where Caruana questions his purpose as a musician, a writer, and a human.

What is innately clear is that Caruana uses music as a vaccine. He, like many of us, struggles with his mental health, and the tracks from ‘Aging Frontman’ are the medicine he uses to get better. It’s a call to his fans that not only is he okay, but he appreciates we’re all in a battle with ourselves, and there is no choice but to conquer that foul demon.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is album opener ‘Better’. A succinct reflection on questioning previous actions and the effect he’s had on friends, family, and fans – an overwhelming urge to make up for past mistakes and right his wrongs. The drab and melodic vocals are pensive and desperate, sounding somewhat familiar to the feeling of the end of a night out after you’ve drunk too much, lost all your mates, and are alone, choking back both tears and the remnants of a cold kebab.

Preceded by the short instrumental track ‘I Love You, Please Watch Over Us’, ‘Providence’ and ‘Tex The Rock Johnson’ are the most interesting. Slower, delicate, and intricate, ‘Providence’ continues on the theme of acceptance and validation, while pondering matters of life and death. It’s here we get a real glimpse at Caruana’s vocal range, as well bouncing effortlessly between clean and unclean deliveries. It emanates pain and hurt, wisdom and satisfaction in a way that should contradict each other, yet he manages to pull it off easily.

‘Tex “The Rock” Johnson’ is radically different from anything else on ‘Aging Frontman’ – heavily utilising a ukulele and a tambourine to great effect. Far more jovial and quirky, it’s use of major chords creates a positive close to an EP that features darker, contemplative content.

The effort that has been put into the emotive and relatable lyrics doesn’t quite match the instrumentation. With some tracks feeling a bit paint-by-numbers – wholly inoffensive and completely listenable, but lacking the punch to resonate with the powerful openness Caruana expresses vocally. If your taste in music revolves around poetic lyrical content, though, particularly if you feel lost and are searching for a path or validation, ‘Aging Frontman’ will deliver that in spades.

ANDY JOICE

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