Review by Shannon Shumaker
The simple acoustic guitar coupled with Jared McCloud’s unique vocals in the beginning moments of his new EP, To Live And Die In Your Arms, is the perfect opening for this record. The first track, “King Of New England,” honestly just sets the tone for the entire album, which is an easy-going vibe with a lot of heart.
One of the greatest parts about To Live And Die In Your Arms is Jared McCloud’s incredibly unique vocals. Most singer-songwriters have the same sort of vocal style - soft and easy-going, not too much but not too little. Jared’s vocals, however, sound more similar to that of a frontman of a hard-hitting rock or pop-punk band, making the contrast between his voice and the soft acoustic guitar and harmonica (see “A Cautionary Tale”) really interesting and different. His voice is commanding and strong, all while still fitting in perfectly with his genre. It’s different, and different is definitely nice.
The only downside on To Live And Die In Your Arms for me came on “Hair Mary.” The “drum” part on this track just sounded a little bit too fake for me, and it didn’t fit in with the otherwise raw and real feel of the rest of the To Live And Die In Your Arms, which I feel is on of the album's best qualities. There’s a great buildup on this song, though, but I was disappointed when it didn’t really lead into anything, instead going straight into the slower final track on the album. That being said though, it was honestly a stretch to find a downside to Jared McCloud’s new EP, as the rest of the record, especially his vocals, was incredibly strong.
Easily my favorite track on To Live And Die In Your Arms is the final song, “Flicker.” Out of every heartfelt track on this EP, the emotion in Jared’s voice really shows and shines in this slow, soft song. It’s really a testament to McCloud’s songwriting and vocal abilities when he’s able to shine on tracks with nothing to back him up but an acoustic guitar and the occasional harmonica. To Live And Die In Your Arms is honestly just a hit. It’s a great mix of indie and rock and the Jared’s vocals are unlike any other singer in his genre right now, setting him apart from the pack of soft, mellow singer-songwriters that easily fade into the background. His voice is real and in your face, even when it’s accompanied only by acoustic guitar, which is a feat that not many are capable of achieving, yet Jared McCloud seems to do it effortlessly, making To Live And Die In Your Arms a real stand-out for the end of the summer.
Listen to "Flicker"