|Album Review: Gareth Emery – Drive|
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Last year, Gareth Emery began a trip with his wife that he had dreamed of taking his entire life: a cross country road trip across the United States. Little did he know, the trip would be a catalyst for his first artist album in three years. Denouncing the contemporary addiction of the dance community to the festival, today we see the official return of Emery to his roots in melody, piano and emotion with the release of Drive.
Since the release of Northern Lights Re-Lit in 2011, Emery has been all over the music industry: heading up his label Garuda alongside friends and fellow progressive club and trance producers like Ben Gold, touring and producing alongside collaborators like Ashley Wallbridge. But there seemed to be something missing, and that was a full album. Though his work with Christina Novelli in 2012 on "Concrete Angel" would land him on many people's lists as 'Song of the Year,' and still thrills crowds like those who were there at the SLS Hotel South Beach to see it performed live, there was no follow up to the song that just doesn't seem to get old. That is, until today, when after a countdown on social media, teasers on music streaming services and the release of its first single "U" featuring Bo Bruce, Drive was finally released. And it seems fans are pleased: within a day, the album has broken the top 50 on iTunes and is the number one dance album there as well.
Beginning the album in true Garuda fashion, "Entrada" starts the album off as a winding synth-led, booming club track that's totally indicative of Emery's style as a producer. Melding melody, percussion and intensity together perfectly, it's a track that shows his production ability, and gives us a track that we know won't be forgotten in live performances. Quickly followed by a vocal appearance from the one and only Christina Novelli whose previous collaboration had brought the team so much success, the two have calmed our nerves with "Dynamite," reminding us that yes, they are still here. "Dynamite" seems next in line to be a single, and its empowering vocals surely did the trick during its appearances during last week's Miami Music Week festivities.
Stream:Gareth Emery – Entrada
Stream:Gareth Emery – Dynamite
The uplifting vocal tracks keep on coming on Drive, with the next introduction to vocalist Gavin Beach on "Eye of the Storm." A punchy progressive house tune paired with head held high vocals, it's another treat to the emotional side of the album.
Stream: Gareth Emery – Eye Of The Storm
The placement of "Javelin" again proves Emery's wealth as a producer, and his understanding of placement and timing. Bringing continuity back to from where the album started, the minor-keyed synth strikes again in a track that emulates the energy of a pulsing festival crowd with the help of Ben Gold. Following the club energy is a softer, trance leaning track with notes reminiscent of his older more ethereal productions like those on the Northern Lights series, "Beautiful Rage" is a sign to long time Gareth fans that he still has his roots in tact.
Stream: Gareth Emery – Javelin
Stream:Gareth Emery – Beautiful Rage
After a good dose of the past, "Million Years" is a robust vocal track with Asia Whitacre that in this day could be considered a future radio hit. But though it has a drop and a flying high synth melody, the progression from vocal to instrumental is impeccable, with an undeniable deep energy making it more than just that.
Stream: Gareth Emery – Million Years
Again after the dose of one type of music that Emery knows well, we're delivered another iteration of the Garuda style in the form of "Firebird." Where things get a little experimental is on "Soldier," where there is an obvious blending of the club side of the album with the style instrumental tracks like "Firebird" emulate so well. Surely it's no mistake that the vocalist on this track is Emery's own sister Roxane Emery, making "Soldier" the perfect place for the two worlds to meet.
Stream: Gareth Emery – Firebird
Krewella and Gareth Emery have done some touring together, and it's no mistake that those performances together led to a collaboration. "Lights and Thunder" is another track just waiting for radio play as well as festival play, with Krewella's vocals working perfectly with Emery's production style. Both sides have a history of being acutely keen of melody, and this track is no different.
The lead single off of Drive is a memorable one, surely one that will also make it into the top tracks of 2014. Featuring the vocals of Bo Bruce, "U" and its anthemic and addictive melody was the perfect introduction to listeners for what to expect from the rest of the album. Its many remixes and mash up appearances say the same about its longevity as its mass popularity.
Saving the best for last doesn't seem to be a strategy that many musicians take in producing an album, but boy that is the case here. "Long Way Home" isn't just Gareth's self-proclaimed favorite track of the album, it's the one that tells the story of Drive the most clearly. A real musical journey, the production is soulful, nostalgic, memorable and indicative of the open road that inspired the album. Followed by the bonus track "Layers" from 2013, "Long Way Home" is the absolute perfect ending to this impressive return from Gareth Emery.
Stream:Gareth Emery – Layers (Original Mix)