DREE PATERSON – A Louder Side Of Me EP

Dree PatersonOn this debut release, Dree Paterson displays a hugely polished talent and appears adept at a variety of musical styles. If we were to be cynical, we could view this as a “musical CV” since her chosen styles are so disparate on occasion.  She seems more than content to deliver several musical ideas and see which sticks…almost to try and gauge which will be most commercially viable, as if she’s not bothered with which one she finds success – as long as someone with the right connections likes one of them, that’s a good start.  Even the title of this show reel, ‘A Louder Side of Me’, sounds like some kind of exercise in public relations…

Chosen as the lead track, ‘Dust’ is a piano ballad in the Charlotte Martin/Sara Barailles vein, very much aimed at the adult pop market.  At almost six minutes in duration, it’s also a song veering towards the epic. With huge brooding tones, the main piano melody occasionally sounds as if its chords are keen to escape from the sadness to which they’ve originally been assigned, to find a home somewhere more progressive and grandiose.  Paterson’s voice is strong enough, singing each line with a sense of loss, the main hook “all we have is dust” seeming particularly effective during her recall of a broken relationship.  Minimal drums eventually break into deeper beats for the tune’s second half, more in keeping with atmospheric adult pop/rock than mere piano balladry – thus strengthening any feelings of the piano part possessing an unexpected Rick Wright quality.    The decision to make the last verse an exercise in autotune abuse was clearly a mistake (although reinforces the idea this EP is aimed at pop listeners in the main); but even so, it does not spoil an otherwise enjoyable number.  Also aiming squarely at the pop market – though this time far more at younger listeners – ‘I Quit’ works a gentle calypso riff, in an attempt to bring a (media-friendly) sunny mood.  Paterson leans towards a simplistic arrangement and an even simpler lyric here, one that ensures this quickly becomes somewhat of an irritant.  Over a basic chord pattern on ukulele, she yelps “I’m gonna make like a banana and split…I quitty quitty quitty quit quit.”  It’s tailor made for a pre-teen audience, perhaps the Nickelodeon viewer – its brattish style is unlikely to please anyone over fourteen.  As such, it probably shouldn’t be up for any kind of analysis, but frankly it is so horribly flippant it beggars belief.  There’s a place in the world for dumb pop, but it should always have a well-arranged tune – and that’s something this truly horrible number sorely lacks.

Moving on, a pair of pop-rockers show a more well-rounded side to this performer’s talents.  ‘Forever’ utilizes a hooky chorus that almost relies on vocal noises as opposed to anything with any real substance…but the combination of meaningless pop hook and jangling emo-ish guitar lines works well.  There are a few vocal filters cleaning things up en route (ensuring more of a pop sound than rock of any kind), but for listeners who enjoy P!nk’s lighter material, this may just have something to offer.  Slowing down a touch, ‘Over’ brings chiming guitars to the fore – tapping into a sound much like the muchly missed 90s band Stretch Princess – resulting in a tune that has a few sharpish chord patterns to help give it a great send off.  Paterson’s performance, meanwhile, shows signs of being very appealing – an easy mix of melody and confident lyrics give this boyfriend-chucking tune a well-rounded feel.  Again – the main hook relies more on oohs, ows, ahs and yelps than actual words, but she knows this simple route to making people sing along is what really counts.  The more questioning ‘In Or Out’ provides the EPs most rocking number, with the guitars cranked up, the pace cranked up and a chorus that would have provided Avril Lavigne with a hit during her peak.  You’ve heard it all before – from Avril, from Australia’s Tonight Forever, from Paramore – but, somehow, it still sounds vibrant enough to more than pass muster.  Paterson and her band see these three minutes off in style – and if you enjoyed this tune, hitting the repeat button a couple more times just about helps make up for ‘I Quit’…

Dree Paterson shows off a solid talent for the piano ballad as well as proving she could cut it in an emo-pop field here, though her general devotion to either seems questionable:  there is, after all, a stylistic gulf separating ‘In Or Out’ from ‘Dust’, to the point where the two songs sound like the output of two different artists.  Both solid fare in the more sophisticated pop market, but then if that was her aim, surely she should have never have considered ‘I Quit’?!  When Paterson’s material works, it works very well, whatever the motivation, but looking at the whole picture, ‘A Louder Side of Me’ seems very disjointed. Listeners will certainly have a preferred style…and open-minded pop fans may find a hook filled treat or two within, but in terms of complete listening pleasure, a little more focus would have been useful.

Grab a free mp3 of ‘Dust’ here.

July 2014