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Johan Rodrigues Tackles Ups And Downs of Love On 'Um' EP

For someone who titled  their EP Um, John Rodrigues is awfully chatty over the album”s five tracks.

“So Is Love” kicks the proceedings off on a high note, with chugging guitars and drums and soaring vocals driving the track, stopping and starting at just the right time to give it some punch. Lyrically, “So Is Love” finds himself resigned to the fact he can”t save a girl from her personal demons (“She”s running from all the fire she cannot see/There is nothing that I can do to set her free”) but is powerless in the face of his personal fantasies (“I notice you passing by is beautiful/And now you”re stuck in my head and that is wonderful”).

He pays for looking the other way on “Saigon,” working through denial (“I know that we will be okay”) , suspicions and ultimately heartbreak (“Tell me is there anyone /I missed a lie of another one/Kiss me goodbye”) over crunchy power chords.

“Bad Girl” is surprisingly tender track given it”s title, with Rodrigues offering to “write a song for you” to a lonely lover who just can”t seem to wrap her head around that gesture, or any other romantic one for that matter. “Bliss” chronicles both the thrill of a tryst (“I kissed her in the dark and knew the feeling was right”) and the regret and frustration of the aftermath (And I love you/Summer went by and I missed you/From morning til” night”) against a backdrop of soft guitar licks and warbled, slightly distorted backing vocals.

Things end on a hopeful note with ”First Song,” promising a fresh start, which sounds all the better with soulful “oohs,” twinkling bells and warm acoustic guitars. Rodrigues intends Um to be a start of a singular adventurous take on pop music, and while it”s definitely pleasing on the ear, making the music more dynamic and varied would help his aims. When his musical experimentation catches up with his emotional honesty, then the epic journey can truly start.

3.5/5

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