October 29, 2009

Record Review: Derek Stroker // Rise and Shine

Nashville, TN
Produced, engineered, edited, and mixed by Stephen Gause Invertigo Productions // Additional engineering by Ben Phillips // Recorded at Invertigo Productions in Nashville // Mastered by John Mayfield

This latest release by Nashville’s Derek Stroker is a terrific example of how he has grown as an artist with complex song arrangements, skilled musicianship and heartfelt lyrics enriched by stronger, smoother vocals.

The music on Rise and Shine is diverse and captivating – owing to Stroker’s influences from blues, jazz, soul and rock – and are masterfully interwoven throughout each song. The opening track, “Rescue,” features varied tempos that eventually merge, swirling together in a rhythmic dance. “Move Your Feet” is an up-tempo jam song that encourages the listener to feel the music. The soft, easy flow of “Sweet Dreams” is enhanced by the gentle wail of the cello throughout. The call and response between the guitar and organ on “Believe” makes it a standout track.

As with his earlier release, Take A Picture, Make A Promise, Stroker mines his innermost thoughts and feelings for his lyrics, taking the listener along on an introspective journey of life, love and loss. In “Rescue,” Stroker contemplates life’s mysteries: “I've been meaning to sort things out / my mind is in the clouds / why is everything so complicated?” The simple, but very important message in “We’re All In This Together” is love, a major theme in his lyrics. The EP closes with “Be Strong,” a slow, tender song of loss: “No one lives forever / they will live on / with the words of this song.”

Stroker crafts timeless music and it only takes one listen to become hooked. (self-released)

Kat Coffin

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