The Stefan Pruett Project [Review]

The Stefan Pruett Project [Review]

One of the first things one notices about Stefan Pruett is that he wants to seduce you into believing that he has done all this silvery, elegant work with absolutely zero effort. There is no sweat on his brow, nor a single misplaced crease in his tuxedo. The truth is he has been singing for most of his life, perspiring via multiple incarnations to reach this latest peak–a provocatively delicate indie-pop-electronica infusion. Its hallmarks are a clean and classic style, piercingly precise production and the second thing you notice about Pruett.

The second thing one notices about Pruett is the aftermath of his voice – a kind of stunning calm, soaked in a bath of ephemeral moxie, wrapped in a sonic blanket of argent plumage, and wreathed in the imagery of an ever-vanishing pastoral adolescence. His theme is laid out clearly in each verse: “When you’re with us, you can do what you say, say what you need, and take anything.”

Let’s not overlook the fact that there are literally a thousand and one ‘Pop Artists’ attempting to put their own brittle stamp on the carpe diem embodiment of youth. In fact, singing the praises of ‘Seizing the Day’ has become so cliché that in the wrong hands it is reminiscent of unintelligible birdsong or a room full of pillow feathers absent naked companions. Yet, Pruett is not singing because his sweet little flutter-heart compels him, rather this fox is tempting us to quietly sneak over and eat that dirty little birdy. Its body will nourish your spirit, and pay no mind to its solemn plea for whimsy. Stefan charms us into a world where things are done more gracefully and with a style that seems to say, “It’s true, I could die at any minute and so could you, but that doesn’t mean we should both shoot up heroin and stare directly at the sun. It means we are obligated to craft our experiences, at every moment deliberately, with every detail honoring a kind of delicious appreciation and self-awareness befitting the gifts already in front of us.”

Speaking technically, his productions have the rhythmic crispness and natural ease reminiscent of early Bowie. In his lyrics we can find the same contemplative simplicity and rosy urgings of Hall and Oats on their sunniest of days, but after Daryl received a vocal transplant from Matt Berninger. Pruett bends these urgings upward towards a positive outlook that simply will not quit. This man will be remixed.

His thesis, in terms of outlook and sound, seems to be made up of an immutable buoyancy, a strangely prophetic clarity drizzled with unintentional melancholy, and a sweeping ovation to the burdening forces of life. He begs you to release, to let go and find instead the almost painfully flawless synth structures. He offers to replace them with the backing vocals of happy children and joyous saints (literally), and generally proffers a grinding down of life’s anxious monotony using a full ‘wall of sound’ style composition, where each piece fits in as perfectly and snugly as any rock in a Peruvian temple. The sounds are freshly washed and there is even (thankfully seldom yet poignantly) the occasional visit of a Vocoder. However, his voice is the framework drawing the synthetic birds to circle. He will ask for your attention sweetly, even cheerfully, knowingly eulogizing that surrender but keenly aware of the forces at work against him. Sometimes he is begging, sometimes looking back on days past with demur acceptance. He intones his message the way death must sound in her enchanted whisper as she offers deliverance from drowning in the ocean. That and he loves eccentric eyewear.

Look at those ridiculously fantastic Jackie O. sunglasses above the impish grin. He wears the shades because he’s managed to clone and steal Johnny Depp’s eyes. I’m serious, God forbid you, enter a staring contest with the man. But like Depp, he doesn’t seem to be able to take the camera seriously for very long. This is a somewhat reluctant prophet, who hates that word and all that has been misrepresented by it. He wants you to believe in what he’s saying, but he’s not going to smash you over the head with a contrived expression of pop culture to get his point across. Instead, expect a perfumed invitation scrawled on rose-paper, blinking electric and vibrating, not stuffed under your door but floating into the open room under it’s own power. “Come and be with me in this place,” the invitation reads, “its simplistic beauty may crush you, but it’s important for each of us to be swept away by rapture from time to time.”

Stylistically, his musical tone is the exact opposite of listening to a Death Cab for Cutie album after breaking up with your one true love. Pruett is the antidote to the mournful. He is the musical Satyr stolen into the garden to bring back the last of the honey wine, but first he stopped to digitize it while dressed in top hat and tails. Moreover, he flaunts this offering of redemption like Hunter S. Thompson doing 95 in a red Cadillac, top down, of course, holding an open jar of gin beside two naked lesbians mirthfully singing aloud as he rounds the next bend. One false move may indeed prove to be lethal, but relax baby he’s got you. Stefan Pruett is commanding carefree precision to win your escape. Above all else, he tempts you with a radiant ode to love and desire, expectancy and deliverance, absolution and release. These are the chambers of his manner, and inside there are no other cares to speak of.

Blog by Matthew D. Carvalho

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