Waylen Roche Strikes a Deep Chord with 33

Waylen Roche’s LP “33” is a must-hear! It is an artistic masterpiece that leans experimental, and feels truly fueled by passion. This album defies the laws of music and adventures into exciting places that pop music never dares to enter. I am delighted to have gotten the opportunity to unpack “33.” I found myself in deep moments of reflection while listening to the album. Waylen Roche has a certain type of magic about him, and it shines through to the listener. This record is an adventure, it flows from start to finish, it all makes sense sonically even as it shifts through genres, and it truly feels like a great gift to the listener. Waylen Roche is a true artist and an incredible songwriter. I have reviewed many albums throughout my time here at Rock the Pigeon. This one stands out from the vast majority of them. Every single track held my attention for different reasons. Sometimes it was the lyrics. Sometimes it was the music. Sometimes it was the experimental production. Please listen to this album in its entirety. It is one grand piece of music. I am certain that something will strike a chord for you.

Listeners will immediately be captivated by the jazzy live pianos and R&B vocals on the introductory track, “Granite.” The lyrics are about a love that just won’t work out. The heaviness of the forbidden love feels like too much to carry, the love interest has a heart of stone. The only way to move forward in life is to let them go. The clever lyrics sing, “maybe on a different planet, I could hold your heart of granite.” 

In “Jordan”, the listener is greeted with emotional sounding pianos again. This song is darker in theme than the previous track. Waylen Roche dives into the hook melody at the 34-second mark, where the listener will be enthralled by the gorgeous vocal harmonies. We hear the story of a man questioning his worth. Could he ever become whole enough to practice self-love and give some of that love to the love of his life? He realizes that relationships are about growing together, facing the challenges of life side by side. He chooses to walk through the growing pains of life with the one he currently loves. The vocal performance is deeply emotionally and leans towards experimental jazz. This is truly a magical piece of music, complete with a memorizing piano solo in the song’s bridge section. The song hits its finale where Waylen Roche showcases another part of his vocal talents as he belts the chorus above the harmonies.

The pace picks up for “Ghostland.” This song features an electronic beat and synthesizers. Waylen Roche lets his imagination run wild as he sings about haunting a loved one through a digital realm. The synth solo is definitely worth hearing! This song flows perfectly into “Buckets” which also features a quick drum grove and heavy synths. This is another experimental track that leans pop. Roche sings, “like a boy, mother adored you…gave you the eyes to see your way through the haunted trees…you see her tears from ceilings fall, filling the cracks between the floorboards…pull out the cords and let there be magic silence.” Catchy synths and vocals make this song totally worthwhile.

The pace slows for “Proof.” The topic of this song centers around grief and reflecting on memories. The song has an eerie sounding vocal melody while a spooky sounding synth sits behind it. We hear more excellent backing harmonies on this track. The synths and electronic beats continue for “Water,” another mellow pop song. This song challenges organized religion and it’s followers. It directly calls out those who use their religion as a weapon of hate against those who are different from them. This song deeply resonated with me, not just as a member of the LGBTQ community, but also as a pro-Palestine activist. “Water” is a heavy song, but one that I wish many people would hear right now. The moody vocals and breathtaking harmonies continue on “Cocoons.” We also hear a jazzy electric guitar riff throughout this song, adding another texture to the album, keeping the listener pleasantly surprised and very amused. These three songs flow very well together and are placed perfectly in the album.

Waylen Roche sings about the 45th American President on “Fingertips.” As he makes a mockery of the former president, I can’t help but think about the fact that the former president is now a convicted felon. I also hope that the American people will not disappoint us for the upcoming election. This song features jazzy sounding guitars and soulful vocals. An experimental synth adds another layer of texture to the song. Without the synth and timely lyrics, the song would sound like a throwback to 1950s music. This song is a great fusion of genres and blends the old with the new.

“Crystalline Giant” contains the lyrics “polyphonic flutter” and does just that throughout its 3 minute and 18 second run. The listener will be captivated by the various drum grooves, the low bass line, and the fluttering synths that buzz from speaker to speaker. This song is extraordinarily experimental in its production and composition, showcasing another side to Waylen Roche’s musical abilities. The synths soar to great heights!

“Fortress” is Waylen Roche’s pandemic song, it’s about being sheltered in place on a secluded farm with just immediate family around. The song reminds the listener to enjoy the simple things in life and find excitement wherever they are. I personally really enjoyed the bass line and horn section. We also get another taste of the remarkable grand pianos. This is another satisfying song!

If you are searching for a song that gives motivation to keep on keeping on, look no further. Waylen Roche gifts the listener an incredible pick me up song with “Pines.” As the bass grooves, Waylen Roche sings his words of wisdom. “Stop complaining, get off the couch, go climb the mountain, appreciate the beauty around you.” Carpe Diem, right?

“Tara” is probably the most emotional song I have ever heard about the loss of a pet and the deep grief that follows. Waylen Roche wrote this song about his orange cat, who suddenly died from cancer. This song literally brought tears to my eyes as it allowed me some space to reflect about losing my own beloved pet. This song is truly a gift to anyone that is struggling with grief, regardless of if the creature is human or an animal. The song brings about a sense of floating, feeling much like what I would think heaven feels like. The last track of the album follows “Tara” perfectly. It’s another song about grief. I could really hear all of the grief and love in the vocal delivery and piano performance. This song is a standout ballad that closes the album with beauty. It made me want to play it from the beginning again.

Written by Ryan Cassata 

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