Review: Kurt Travis/Paul Travis – Split EP

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Kurt Travis has done a lot in his musical career. You may know him best as the former vocalist of Dance Gavin Dance. Kurt released 2 albums with Dance Gavin Dance, many of whom would say was their finest work. Following his work in DGD, Kurt would go on to front with another California post hardcore outfit, A Lot Like Birds, though his departure from the group has been recently announced. Aside from his illustrious career in the world of aggressive music, Kurt Travis also has had a pretty impressive solo career with two EP’s and a full length titled Everything Is Beautiful under his belt, which are hidden gems in their own right. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Kurt recently started his own label, Esque Records. Under this new imprint, he has released his latest endeavor, a four song split EP with Paul Travis.

If you are familiar with Kurt Travis’ solo work, you know what to expect here. It’s a mellow project of soft pop music. Much of the music is soft rock/alternative guitar driven, carried by the soft croons of Kurt and Paul Travis. Throw in some sprinkles of synthesizers and… a horn section(?) and you have a pretty good idea of what this record is all about.

The extra instruments used on this album are all placed beautifully, each placed very carefully into a specific spot of a song that really pulls it together in just the right way without being too obvious. Take for example the strings that loom in the background on “Permanent.” While not the focal point of the song, they create a beautiful tone that crescendos through the tune, pushing it forward and intensifying the tone without it becoming too harsh. This EP is full of little things of that nature that keeps me coming back for multiple listens.

I must profess that I am in love with the singing on this record. Kurt Travis is admittedly one of my favorite singers, but I was taken aback by how impressed I was with Paul. His soft spoken lyricism reminds me of old Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), while his higher pitched melodies remind me of Iron & Wine, or even Bon Iver. All the while his middle range is a sound completely all his own. Their voices mesh well together and wrap you in a warm blanket of harmony.

Some fans of DGD and A Lot Like Birds that are less familiar with Kurt’s solo endeavors, or don’t have an ear for less agrressive music may find this record jarring, and even concerning with the recent news following his departure from his band. However, I encourage that fan to really give this project a chance as not only does Kurt shine on his own, but Paul as well. I really hope these two continue to make music together and this isn’t just a one-off project, because they truly have something special here. (Johnny Athey)

9/10

For fans of: Anthony Green, Bright Eyes, City & Colour

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