Review by Shannon Shumaker
Gates new release, Parallel Lives isn’t necessarily a concept album, but it is driven by themes that many listeners will easily understand and connect to. Inspired by riding the subway every single day, Gates’ Kevin Dye was confronted with the fact that he will never know every person he comes across and will never understand their story. Parallel Lives is inspired by something that everyone has at least thought about once or twice, but Gates put it to music and words, making for an absolutely stunning release.
Starting slow with soft drums and soothing vocals with “Forget,” the album just keeps building, becoming bigger and brighter as it progresses forward. The second song, “Habit” really hones in on that feeling of longing captured in the theme of the album, all over bright and beautiful instrumentals. The combination is moving and stunning, to say the least.
Then comes “Eyes,” which holds a bit more intensity than the first two soft songs. There’s a dissonance in the guitar work that doesn’t make it flow quite as beautifully as the opening tracks, but the step away from the soft sound is welcomed, proving that on top of a strong concept, the album is also very diverse musically. Following "Eyes" is “Shiver,” another strong track carried by quivering vocals that really set the mood for the song. “Shiver” just keeps getting stronger as it goes on, the guitar work at the end of the track proving to be very different than what you would expect at the beginning of the song, but very beautiful nonetheless. The first four songs on Parallel Lives are all very strong, but for their own reasons, and if the first half of the album is this diverse, then the second half just becomes even stronger.
“Empty Canvas” comes along about halfway through, hammering the theme of the album home with the opening line, “I see myself in you.” The longing lyrics and soft instrumentals are a perfect combination to tell the story of Parallel Lives, and the same can be said for the following song, “Color Worn,” which hosts the hauntingly beautiful line, “All you are is anonymous/And all I am is another one.”
One of the strongest songs on Parallel Lives comes toward the end of the album. The contrast between the longing lyrics and catchy, upbeat tempo is incredible on “Penny,” which hosts strong lines such as “When I’m gone are you gonna miss me?/Are you even listening?/Do you even care about anything at all?”
Closing out Parallel Lives is the line that drives the message home - “All we seem to be are parallel lives caught crossing.” Not only is Gates’ sophomore release absolutely beautiful, carried by soaring guitars and big, bright choruses, but lyrically, the album is full of emotion, longing and most of all, hope. It’s something that nearly everyone can relate to, but that we don’t normally think about, and Gates have done an incredible job driving the message home.
Listen to "Habit" or "Penny"
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