Welcome to your Album of the Week.
WHO: Patrick Droney
WHAT: His self-titled EP
WHY: Over the years the blues have continued to find old souls in younger and younger places to safely rest and express: the latest exemplar coming into the wider music world’s focus being a 26-year-old Patrick Droney.
Something of a prodigy, Droney is hardly new to the game: he’s been sharpening his guitar and songwriting skills for the majority of his young life. Now what has come out on the other side of the awards, the touring, the acclaim and the guidance from elders like BB King and Elvis Costello is some profoundly assured and realized songcraft of the heart in the form of this 5-song self-titled EP.
Of course, this is the stuff of Nashville, where it was co-produced by Droney and Ian Fitchuk and you get that. You get how the warm-blooded, deeply powerful and affirming uplift of opener “Stand and Deliver” flirts with gospel just enough to push it from the simple of a good song into anthem territory because – along with the song’s deft production – Droney vocally delivers his message as if something very real is at stake. Personally, I’d put money on James Bay wishing that he’d written that one.
And all of the songs are borne of the risk of something or someone at stake, all stitched together in an EP for the satisfying effect of feeling. On “Always Been the End of the World” Droney rides optimistic pessimism (or pessimistic optimism depending on your world view) into the sunset while “Ruined” is a slow-burning dance/battle (and fall) sketched out along lush and classic blues lines as the jeopardy of love plays out in real time.
But it’s the almost minimalist “High Hope” with its piano intro and Droney’s scaled back guitar that shows the wisdom of restraint as a very correct production choice is made to not overwhelm the song’s sublime web of emotional support. Where on the other side of the coin, with its layered groove, you’re taken on a lyrically visual guided tour of a fractured relationship with “Brooklyn.”
All of the earthy and valiant desire that Droney expresses to be more the remedy and less the affliction is refreshingly framed and honest possibly making “I’ll be here if you need me / If you don’t, just now / I got a high hope” from “High Hope” one of the most vulnerably human lyrics he has written. It would appear that he is at as much emotional risk as everyone else, he’s just slightly less reticent to share it.
Guitar virtuosity is something that Patrick Droney mastered a long time ago. And while he definitely flexes his ability to peel off accomplished riffs on this EP, the more important fact of note is that the singer/songwriter in him has found his voice and created an open-hearted and compelling collection of songs – soulful, thoughtful, expressive, fluid – which get better and feel genuinely deeper with every listen.