Softly reaching out to us through the speakers, Rory D’Lasnow makes it clear right off the bat in his record Songs From An Empty Room that he isn’t looking to wow us with volume and virtuosic play, but something far simpler and sophisticated all at the same time. “Where You Belong” stoically kicks off the tracklist with a somber melody that eventually grows into something moderately optimistic and, dare I say, even a bit starry-eyed, and its progression from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other is indicative of what listeners can expect in the four songs that follow. Songs From An Empty Room is a record about growth and, what’s more, a singer/songwriter finding the right balance between ghostly harmonies and ethereal lyrical confessions.
“Forgotten” picks up the pace in terms of instrumental aggression, but its clandestine harmonies stay within the pop realm enough to invite the listener closer when others would just as soon feel pushed away by the overwhelming emotionality of the lyrics. There’s no getting around it – D’Lasnow is putting some pretty heavy stuff on the line in this track, as well as “I Won’t Do Anything,” but his disposition doesn’t indicate anything but confidence every time he starts crooning. He’s secure in his statements whilst being honest about his vulnerabilities, which is a talent I and many others wish we could master in our own lives. His commentary depicts life and some of its more introspective moments, but insularity is never a narrative here.
“Power of Love” feels like the lead single of Songs From An Empty Room, but it doesn’t flood the speakers with the kind of bombast that a lot of crown jewel tracks often do. The mix is consistent from one song to the next in this EP, allowing for every track to feel equally important regardless of length or aesthetical platform. Although he’ll probably catch a little bit of hell from the alternative rock purists who want him to be a little punkier with his poetic approach to Songs From An Empty Room, I don’t think going more straightforward with his style here would have done anything but dilute the substance of this EP’s greatest feature – the humility and honesty of its lone creator.
Songs From An Empty Room concludes with “Happy,” which brings Phil Robinson into the studio for a collaboration with Rory D’Lasnow that puts a spectacular cherry on an already incredible sundae of a record, and upon its completion, it’s tempting to go back through the complete tracklist all over again. This is an endlessly accessible extended play, and whether you’re a newcomer to D’Lasnow’s sound or have been keeping up with his career going back to his 2011 debut in When All Is Fading, he establishes himself as the kind of reliable singer/songwriter you can trust with your time no matter the release. He’s a modern troubadour and a very mature songwriter, and I think this is just the beginning of his mainstream successes.
by Ava Archuleta