Review by Shannon Shumaker
When Silverstein frontman Shane Told surprised fans with the launch of his solo project, River Oaks, and the release of his debut self-titled EP, I already had high expectations, and thankfully (and unsurprisingly) they were all met within just the first track. While River Oaks is more tame than what most Silverstein fans are used to, the second that Shane Told opens his mouth, they’re sure to fall in love. While it’s hard not to think of the singer’s other band when listening to his solo work, musically, this feels very different from a Silverstein record, and by the end of the three songs, it’s easy to separate the two and take River Oaks’ debut EP at face value.
Told really bares all lyrically on this EP, and that much is obvious in the raw, longing moments of the first track, “Let You Down.” Not only that, but his vocal melodies are catchy and sing along worthy, proving that Told is still capable of writing memorable hits even without the rest of Silverstein backing him up. By the time this first track comes to an end, you’ll be singing along.
Where “Let You Down” will definitely win over any Silverstein fans with soaring choruses and the song's catchy, yet longing feeling, “Mistakes” is mellow and really strips things down, showing us a completely different side of Shane Told and proving River Oaks’ strengths as a solo project. The toned down, mellow acoustic guitar work is sleepy sounding, but Told’s voice cuts through it brilliantly, keeping you hooked even without catchy, upbeat choruses. The clarity of the vocals and the emotion packed behind them is a real driving point behind “Memories,” and again, the lyrics are a high point as well. This track is raw and honest, delivering lines like, “I can’t get up/Don’t be patient/You should move on/And leave me here.” The only downside on “Memories” comes in its length - just when the song really gets going, it comes to a fairly abrupt end, and you’re left wanting just a little bit more.
The abrupt ending on “Mistakes” is remedied, however, by the last song, “Roman Candle.” This track is slow like “Mistakes,” but again, Told’s voice really shines through the slow moments and especially rings out in the chorus. “Roman Candles” merges the strong aspects of both “Memories” and “Let You Down” both with the slow, raw moments and the strength of the full band later in the song, and the result is a powerful, emotionally charged final track that will leave listeners wanting more.
The difference in sound on River Oaks debut EP is both refreshing and familiar, both for new listeners and those who have been fans of Shane Told for years. Silverstein fans are bound to enjoy River Oaks for some of the same reasons that they enjoy Told’s other project, but there are new sounds and emotions to be found on this EP, making it stand apart from anything else the singer has been a part of. Swapping high energy and aggression for emotional, heartfelt and personal lyricism paired with beautiful instrumentals and crisp vocals, River Oaks debut EP is a success.
Listen to "Let You Down"
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