Italy’s ClayToRide have stated that they are partly inspired by anything that reminds them of “something important, as a memory, a dream or even an awareness.” And it is certainly these themes that can be found on the bands latest release Glass Vessels.
Though very much a mixed bag when it comes to each song individually, where ClayToRide really shine is on their shorter songs, the ones that have fewer lyrics. This is not to say that the trio can’t write beautiful, poetic, lyrics, because they can and do on this album. But the tracks with less words magically in the bands hands come to life more than other tunes found on the LP.
“Solidad, Barcelona” has an explosive extended instrumental introduction before lead singer Stefano Sartori breaks into the track and cracks through the harder rock shell with his gentle, yet raw, storytelling voice. The structure here is very simple and the lyrics read as almost one flowing, never ending cohesive thought. With a structure so simple it would be easy to write this song off as too easy, but it is anything but. If you’re looking for a typical verse/chorus formula don’t bother. It’s not here. And that is part of the genius of “Solidad, Barcelona.” It’s hard to tell where the song begins and ends because it is all unfolded in such a prolific way, a tune for astute listeners. It’s a great lesson to other musicians out there who are looking to branch out into more complex territory.
Using a more typical rhyming scheme, “Lords of the Night” is far more a traditional rock song in its structure, but it still sounds completely fresh and new, even if there are hints of Kings of Leon here. The chorus is just mainly the lyrics “Lords of the Night” repeated in a drawn out fashion. The simplicity of that, and I keep using that word, is again something to be awed. Not many bands can pull off that tactic and still seem smart, but that’s what ClayToRide does. The breakdown is disjointed in all the right and best ways and may make listeners feel unsettled. It’s not there just for show, it has a purpose, just like what much of ClayToRide accomplishes.
Perhaps the highlight of the entire LP is the title track “Glass Vessels.” Santori’s voice is vulnerable and his lyrics are heartbreakingly truthful and relatable. “I’m not ok, the couch embraces the rest of me.I’m a little pale, I can not feel my legs anymore.” Singing what so many listeners are feeling while not losing the intimacy of the song of this one particular person in one particular story is no easy feat, but ClayToRide pull it off with effortlessly. Again the actual word count of the song isn’t high, and there are repeated phrases throughout, but sometimes the most effective stories are told with minimal speaking, and if you haven’t figured it out by now ClayToRide, with their unique methods, find ways to make old stories new.
There are some issues to be found, songs such as “Lady Mania” and “Bologna” go on for way too long. The songs themselves hold some spectacular imagery in the lyrics but that is not enough to hold this listener’s attention for nearly six or seven minutes. Both have different sounds to them, but they still seem to drag, and yes it is here where ClayToRide tend to drift away from their low word count and get a bit chatty and it just doesn’t work after one has heard the shining examples that have come before these tracks. Weirdly “Kyle” just feels out of left field and out of place on the album, but the story is told so succinctly and well that though it may come off as a bit odd, ClayToRide’s writing style saves the day.
Glass Vessels isn’t perfect by any means. Very few albums are. But there are nuggets of pure gold to be found here. You just have to be patient enough to sift through to find them.