One of the great qualities a developing artist can display is a mix of self-criticism and restraint. Self-criticism is realizing “this is not very good,” and then practicing more. Restraint is thinking “other people will not enjoy listening to this,” and not releasing anything until it’s up to par.
In his self-titled solo acoustic EP, Calendar Pages seems to have been neither self-critical nor to have used restraint. These three songs, released independently on September 27, sound like something my teenage self could have written, but would never have shared with the world. Kevin Clancy’s nasal voice, stereotypical emo vibe, unsteady guitar strumming and overuse of semi-open chords made this a boring and cringe-worthy listen. Of course, any contribution to the realm of original music is a positive thing, and the effort that went into this release must be commended. However, there is much room for Clancy to mature and improve, both artistically and technically.
Opening track “Nothingness” sets the bleak tone of Calendar Pages with a lackluster guitar part and lyrics that almost make you feel sorry: “Sunlight is useless now / as I watch the summer die.” Clancy’s vocals are drowned in artificial reverb, and the guitar strumming on this song as well as the others is terribly unsteady. Perhaps the easiest thing he could do to improve his musicianship would be learning to play to a metronome.
“Tribeca” and “Suffocation” are no better by any means, and it quickly becomes apparent that this EP as a whole lacks depth and variety. All three songs sound similar, with hooks that seem to be borrowed from the popular emo bands of the 2000s and 2010s. Again, the lyrics are painfully plaintive and display little variety: “I should have slept in because / I am terrified of the daylight,” Clancy sings in “Tribeca,” shortly before launching into a hopelessly off-tune vocal melody. To make things worse, the sole accompaniment of his acoustic guitar sounds thin, and his signature unsteady strumming is ever-present. Closing track “Suffocation” is no better, displaying more of the same problems described above, only this time, the guitar and vocals are clipping…
The passion and love that went into making this album certainly didn’t go unnoticed, and it’s worth saying that there is a good deal of value here. Sadly, the truth is you can’t really pull off an album with only acoustic guitar and vocals unless the songs and performance are well above par. Calendar Pages has neither of those, and his album is receiving marks for effort alone.
Written by Henri Brillon
*Edited by Chris Aitkens