As a music fan, I find that one key element that separates a small subset of musical artists from all others is that they produce a body of work that seems to get better and better with every listen.
For myself personally, this includes albums such as “Electric Ladyland” by Jimi Hendrix, “Blue” by Joni Mitchell and “Grace” by my own personal musical hero, Jeff Buckley. With every subsequent listen of these works, I always hear something new – be it a guitar lick, a new interpretation of a song lyric, or a backup vocal melody buried deep within a track.
And it’s this characteristic that allows musical works to stand the test of time. While the production of the aforementioned albums may now sound dated in light of advances in recording technology since they were first released, elements such as lyrical quality and harmonic richness (i.e., melody and chord progression) will always be timeless. Musical artists who are able to produce such timeless works belong to a small pantheon of musicians who are known today by the general public as “The Greats”.
Horizon Lines – An Impressive Debut
So it’s with this mindset and sense of musical history that I listened carefully to “Horizon Lines” by 16-year old singer-songwriter Chrissy Pastore, which was entirely written, performed and produced by her. Overall, the melodies throughout Horizon Lines are beautiful and memorable as is Miss Pastore’s singing, which brims with earnestness and both the promise and traumas of youth. Miss Pastore plays all the instruments on her album, including keyboards and guitar and she plays them quite well. And it’s very clear that Miss Pastore is a precocious lyricist and story teller. Standout tracks are discussed below.
The album starts off with “Tiffany’s” and its simple I-V-IV chord progression in the key of C major. However, the harmonic simplicity of this song belies the quality of the lyrics. In “Tiffany’s”, Miss Pastore’s character sings with sadness about the defraying of a friendship as a consequence of the widening economic and social gap between her own family and that of her friend.
“Letters” has a very original and engaging piano riff that lurks underneath Miss Pastore’s haunting vocals, which are beautifully sung and harmonized throughout the song as she sings about romantic longing and disappointment.
Green Lakes State Park
“Green Lakes State Park” is my favourite track, which starts off with a beautiful and haunting I-III-V-VI chord progression in the key of E minor. Miss Pastore then proceeds to sing a story about someone who underwent emotional suffering as a result of a traumatic event. What that event was is unknown to the listener, which only makes the song more intriguing. Starting at 1:21 into the song, Miss Pastore demonstrates her impressive vocal skill and beautiful sense of melody with a haunting vocal riff sung between verses.
Lastly, there is Diamond Tears, with its lovely I-III-IV chord progression in the key of C major and beautifully sung by Miss Pastore. In this song, her character comes to the realization that she may not know as much about life as she once thought, and longs for the time when she was happier in her naivete.
Final Impressions and Thoughts
I’ve listened to Miss Pastore’s debut album several times since its release on December 19th 2020, and if both she and this album come to the attention of the right person in the music industry (i.e., someone with influence who’s not an idiot with poor taste in music), she may very well end up joining this small elite club known as “The Greats” sometime in her professional future.
With that being said, I have a somewhat cynical view of today’s music industry and the quality of the music it produces. I’ve written extensively about this in my widely read article entitled “An Analysis of Why Modern Music is So Awful“. Ceteris parabus, the odds are against many phenomenally talented artists such as Miss Pastore.
Which is exactly my motivation for writing this album review. If I can use my own modest platform (such as this blog) to help bring talented artists such as Miss Pastore to the public’s attention, I hope to contribute to the amelioration in the quality of today’s mainstream music. At the risk of sounding overdramatic, I feel like I’m doing God’s work by promoting worthy artists such as Miss Pastore and helping make mainstream music worth listening to again.