monoblogue music: “Violet York” by Lake Preston

This is an album that, frankly, I wasn’t sure I was going to review since it came from outside my usual channel of music to pontificate over. But this year I really don’t have enough EP or full-length records from that source to create a top 5 list that I’m satisfied with so over the next couple weekends I’m going to add some “bonus” content, as it were, and see what good comes from it. I sort of saw this coming after last year so I kept this young man’s e-mail in my box in case of such an emergency.

Lake Preston was (at the time I received this) a 16-year-old singer-songwriter from Chattanooga, Tennessee. (I suspect by now he is 17.) The album in question was compiled in a most unusual way, as he wrote, “I recorded this album using only my iPhone and Apple earbuds originally as a set of demos and as an experimental recording project. However, as my connection with the writing grew stronger and stronger, reflecting my recent experiences, it became a very important and serious project.”

Therein lies the album’s biggest flaw. Admittedly, I use my Android phone for almost all of the personal photos I put on this website as well as those I enter in our local county fair photography competition. And while I advertise on this website and have won a few ribbons with my photo work, I know taking pictures with a cell phone is not something I could do for a living because the quality isn’t there on a consistent basis. So I have a very, very difficult time reconciling “very important and serious project” with the poor mixing and recording quality of this record. If it were that important and serious, it’s called go out and make a little money to secure some studio time or the software and equipment to do this correctly.

After all, there are songs which have a batch of promise on this, with Something In Love, Ever Since I Saw You Smile, and Violet York, 1932 (Reprise) perhaps the closest to ready. Belying his age, they seem to fit in an adult contemporary style. (Interestingly enough, the reprise is of the first song called 1932 Overture, which really suffers from the limited quality of the mix.)

Since Lake did this album at the tail end of last year, he’s hooked up with another artist by the name of Aaron Hayes, and they have dubbed themselves The Good Kind. (This is on the same Bandcamp page “Violet York” is on.) Their demo was actually recorded in a home studio, which was a definite step up, and it’s the place you can listen for yourself.

But if I had two other pieces of advice for young Mr. Preston, one would be to remain polite and humble. This may not have been the glowing review you hoped for, but it is an honest assessment. So the second is a suggestion on how to do a home studio, because Lake’s DIY efforts reminded me of this guy and upon further investigation they are all but neighbors (if you consider the state of Tennessee a neighborhood, that is.)

About three years ago I reviewed an album by a longtime musician, Billy Crain. One unique thing about Crain: the album of his I reviewed was also a DIY effort, but it was done up right. Now I’ve never met Billy Crain – although he professes to be a Christian man, so he is my brother in that respect – but if it worked for me after a fashion, perhaps Lake needs to write another nice note for advice and see where it leads. He may not give you an answer, but you never know unless you ask, right?

The talent seems to be there, it just needs to be harnessed and led a little bit.