Legendary rocker Freddy Mercury once said “We are in a golden age of music. There will be a time when technology becomes so advanced that we’ll rely on them to make music rather than raw talent. Music will lose its soul.” It’s 2019 and with so much “technology” and production tricks at their fingertips, it’s worth praising artists that do use computers in a way that showcases their artistic imprints. One such artist is Dan Rico, a Chicago-based pop rock singer/songwriter. Rico’s deliciously 80s track “SHI” is in a way an ode to fellow Chicagoan, John Hughes. And in a way, it’s a nod to the future of music.
The charm in “SHI” is the boyish crush and shyness in the lyrics. “I don’t know why, I don’t know why, we act so shy, when will meet again, I don’t know when we will meet again,” Rico sings. His voice at times croons like OMD in the classic “If You Leave” to higher falsetto like something from Prince or Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” I couldn’t even begin to try to escape the chorus only to feel engulfed in the airy, synthesizers and crunchy guitars. While the song starts out with muffled vocals, as if Rico is too embarrassed to really proclaim his feelings, the song springs to life in a burst of pop colors and unique orchestrations. The muffled vocals threw me off a bit at first, but I got swept into enjoying the positive, airy music.
The protagonist of the song – assuming it could also be a woman – could easily be the title character in a Hughes movie. What I liked most about Rico’s approach and the song overall is the balance – the song has a buoyant approach, yet like a Hughes’ character, they have a real life shortfall, only to wrap it all up at the end. I think Rico does that in “SHI.” He’s got to the point where he can’t put it into words, but he can let the music bed champion his true feelings. I’m just not sure why he calls the track “SHI” and not “SHY.” The song changes like the beating heart – fast at times and confident in the right spots. The riffs, like the guitar embellishments, come at the right time and really bridge together all of the emotions evoked. You feel happy, even though the ‘shyness’ also feels a bit awkward (who hasn’t felt shy and awkward when loving someone from afar!).
There’s a feeling of bliss – digital it may seem – but an immersion of pulsating vibes that takes over in “SHI.” At just over four minutes, this song kept my attention and rightfully led me down a cool synth-pop-funky path. “SHI” has some fun twists and turns into creative doorways into rock and even R&B. Though Rico names Chet Baker, T. Rex, Elvis, David Bowie and even Duke Ellington as influences on his Facebook page, it’s clear to me as a listener he’s made his own mark and utilizing all the resources in front of him to make something very modern. And, yes, his music has soul.