Whenever I’m told to “have fun,” my gut reaction is usually disdain, followed by a rolling of my eyes and a mental search for an excuse to get out of the event in question. Similarly, whenever I’m asked to “keep an open mind,” I generally find it more difficult to check my biases at the door, so to speak. People’s actions — or in this case music — should speak for itself. We create mental barriers as a defense mechanism to protect us from things we don’t like. On a very basic level, this is how we develop personal taste.
Though I’m sure he meant well, local songwriter Adam Reczek made the latter error in a missive accompanying his debut album, The Window Seat. I can’t hold that against him, of course. How was he to know that particular imperative would trigger within me a small army of mental red flags? By the same token, how am I to ignore them?
The disc begins with “Rain Delay.” Reczek bills himself as “reminiscent of artists such as Dave Matthews and Neil Young” — danger, Will Robinson! In fact, the song’s nimbly picked acoustic guitar intro does evoke memories of the former artist. Say what you will about Dave Matthews, but dude is (was?) a pretty gnarly guitarist in his own way. But any comparison to him — or to God, er, Young — ends there.
“Rain Delay” is typical of much of the material that follows. Trite, tactless wordplay is delivered in a nasal, occasionally off-key baritone. Predictable melodies cloy at the listener’s sensibilities. At least the guitar work is generally solid.
As is frequently the case with young songwriters, Reczek — a student at St. Michael’s — is the victim of his own ambition. Much like his request to “keep an open mind” is guileless, Reczek’s material, especially his writing, is weighed down by overwrought, overwritten sentiment. In listening to The Window Seat, a writer’s maxim comes to mind: “Show, don’t tell.”
Not that Reczek is a lost cause. He isn’t. There are some nice, even inventive, moments throughout the disc — “Spaceships in the Sky,” “End of the Day” and “Snapping Twigs,” in particular — that suggest he might eventually outgrow the overbearing earnestness that mars this debut. Should that happen, you won’t need an open mind to enjoy listening.
Adam Reczek plays the Monkey House in Winooski this Monday, September 21.