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Album Review of TYTUS'

the human condition ep

By David Lyda (From: Volume 2 - Issue 2)
(All photos provided by TYTUS.)

TYTUS’ debut release, the human condition ep, is a fine collection of five songs that demonstrates his desire for variety. Arrangements and the overall feel of each track offer many fresh styles. Though TYTUS has difficulty labeling his own music, he sometimes describes it as soft rock. Such a classification makes me think about cheesy 80s bands like Air Supply, and that is most definitely not an accurate description. Acoustic rock is probably a more apt title, but the songs beg to be heard rather than described.

The human condition ep explores the various journeys through life that can often end in despair. There is no doubt that the darkness and oppression in life can rob us of the richness of being alive. TYTUS’ songs do not fall into the trap that easily befalls most modern rock albums. Many artists have a tendency to give only a “woe is me”, “I hate my life” outlook. While the human condition ep does explore the bleakness of life, it also offers the undeniable hope that is found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The album artwork is a dramatic demonstration of what we are all like without God, shipwrecked. Former DAYLIGHTwasting guitarist, James Sargent II, assisted with the excellent photography of TYTUS tattered and bandaged from life.

As the liner notes detail, TYTUS had support from several studio musicians. TYTUS himself provided the vocals on all the tracks. He also played all the acoustic guitars, all the keyboards, and some electric guitar. Tracked and produced at Bombhouse Studios in Morgantown, NC, the human condition ep sits comfortably alongside the quality and professional sound of today’s Billboard hits.

“A Better Way”: The opening bells of the album may make the listener believe he has popped in the Doobie Brothers song “Black Water” by accident, but that is quickly dispelled by the introduction of synthesized piano with acoustic guitar. As the song settles in, it begins to stylistically remind me of a Matthew West song. The subject matter could easily fit into that Christian singer’s repertoire as well. It looks at the problems we face when focusing on ourselves. The song lets you know that there’s a better way. No matter how hard we try, we’ll never have the fullness of life without God. Once the chorus kicks in, the musical palette opens up with drums and additional guitars. The electric guitar in particular offers very nice leads that really shine during the outro of the song. The choruses all change slightly as TYTUS focuses on a different person or persons. “You can”, “I can”, and “we can” show the universal nature of what we experience as people. “A Better Way” offers encouragement and presents a cry to God to not give up on us fallible human beings.

“Color of the Crows”: The second track on the ep is one of the hardest songs to decipher. TYTUS will quickly tell you that he writes in an ambiguous manner to make the songs more personal for the listener. The lyrics again address the struggles of man, and it appears that the color of the crows may be a comparison to the blackness of sin. This is definitely a song that finds somebody searching, and being amazed at the goodness of God. “Sometimes it’s so hard to believe, that my blood runs with nobility.” Unlike many pop songs, the chorus does not even feature the title of the song. The song as a whole has a very unique arrangement, and it is by far the most rocking of the five tracks on the human condition ep. The rapid fire delivery of the bass drum in some parts adds an especially nice touch. The first two verses of the song have a heavy effect distorting the vocals, and this can become distracting. It doesn’t stop this song from becoming my favorite track on the album, though. The sound of “Color of the Crows” could be easily compared to the band Building 429, and the killer interlude especially sounds like it would fit right in on one of their albums. A call to action is delivered near the closing of the song as “Be prepared to fight or die, when the color of the crows show.” Truly, this is a call we must answer every day as Christians. (Luke 9:23)

“Colder Days”: I have found that many bands put a softer song as the third track of their albums, and TYTUS’ ep is no different. “Colder Days” begins with a very exposed sounding voice in the forefront. The mix of vocals sounds a bit abrasive at first while overpowering the gentle acoustic guitar, but it really allows the listener to hear every bit of emotion in TYTUS’ voice. As the song builds, more instruments fill in any void that may be present, and the cello by Everett Hardin offers a particularly haunting vibe to the song. I’m reminded of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes (made popular by the Byrds with “Turn, Turn, Turn”) when analyzing the words of the song. As we go through seasons in our life, the valleys can often seem cold and unforgiving. Probably an intentional play on words, Son could easily replace sun in the line “For the sun is not to blind me, it’s to warm these colder days.” Jesus is for our good, and He’s beside us in the good and the bad. He can and will warm our lives. Our responsibility in the seasons lies in how we respond. “Don’t be surprised when life surprises you. It happens all the time. It’s what we do with those surprises, that help us walk the line.” What do we do with the bad things in life?

“Hay in a Needle Stack”: A very pointed (pun intended) song follows “Colder Days.” While we are able to rest in the warmth of the Lord in cold days, we too often find ourselves focusing on the bad things in life. Not only do we focus, but we drown in it while never allowing the good to show through. The theme of seasons is again played upon, and we see that “To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). As people, we can be ok with just a little bad in a good season “a needle in a haystack”, but we have a difficult time finding clarity with a little good in a bad season “hay in a needle stack.” Where is God in the bad times? “If we could catch a glimpse of us tomorrow, maybe we’ll forget our sorrow tonight.” Life is about perspective, and we’ve been told the future. Christians can rest in the comfort of knowing “…that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Roman 8:18). We should press through the “needle stack” and let it have its perfect work. “Don’t run too fast or walk too slow. A steady pace will free your soul.” Sonically, “Hay in a Needle Stack” sounds happy. The intro has an 80s vibe that reminds me of a Tears for Fears song. The music really presents itself as epic! TYTUS’ intros can sometimes give a false impression of the song as whole. This track is no exception, as the song then starts shaping into more of a Needtobreathe type of sound.

“The Human Condition”: The closing track is also the title track of the ep. Throughout the collection, the human condition is explored, and here we see it spelled out. It’s something we all face, but all of our journeys are different. “We all have our own rendition, of the human condition.” The flesh is what wears us down, but there is hope. “The Human Condition” is presented almost like a lullaby. The beautiful cello flourishes often remind me of the song “The World I Know” by Collective Soul, which also brings a message of hope. Cello is also featured in an awesomely bare interlude and the outro of the song. Unexpectedly, TYTUS is suddenly joined by vocalist Roseanna Parker in portions of the song. One nod to Greenville, SC is given as “a midnight walk in Cleveland Park.” For those unfamiliar with the area, I wouldn’t recommend such a stroll at that time of night! The only explicit mention of God on the album comes in the bridge, “Run to the sun, to the face of God. Oh ‘cause I can see what I’ve become. A fiend with nowhere else to run. I need to find a place to breathe fresh air.” What a comfort it is to know that no matter what we can’t accomplish on our own, no matter what sins we’ve committed, no matter the cold days, no matter our short sightedness, no matter our trials, we have a God who loves us and offers “a remedy for your human condition.”

Album available through all major Music download sites (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and CD Baby)

www.tytusmusic.net

From: Volume 2 - Issue 2


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