One Man In The Middle brings you regular, unbiased and honest reviews of music albums and EPs from Christian artists and musicians in the UK and worldwide. Here we have Heart On My Sleeve by B.Reith with an overall review score of 7.1 out of 10.
Not many recording artists carry the titles “singer, rapper, songwriter & producer” and stand out in each category. That’s what makes B.Reith (pronounced RYE-TH) so unique, and why so many people have fallen in love with his authentic sound.
B.Reith (born Brian Reith) grew up in Milwaukee and began singing on commercials at the age of five. His father owned a recording studio, in which Brian fell in love with the art of creating music. Singing and performing at churches and in school was the playground where he developed a passion for entertaining others by serving them with his gifts. After moving to Nashville he was discovered by Gotee founder Toby Mac.
The last thing we heard from B. Reith was back in 2011 with his “How The Story Ends” album. Given the terminal sounding title we could be forgiven for thinking that Brian had given up music, which would be a real loss for the industry! Thankfully he is now back with an EP crowd-funded through the Pledge Music platform.
This EP comprises of 6 tracks and as you would expect with B. Reith they are a blend of styles, although predominantly they are his soulful R’n’B style. I think this EP has been written from a different place than we have seen from B. Reith and although these tunes are mostly light the lyrics seem to carry a heavier burden than previously. There seems to be a struggle for acceptance and disappointment that comes across as he negotiates life. This feeling is particularly evident in “On My Own” where he asks about the nature of his friendships and whether people like him just for his music, or if there is something deeper there. This, I guess, is part of wearing his heart on his sleeve!
Before he gets there the album opens with the most hip-hop number of “Winning Feeling” which features the talent of Christon Gray. This starts the album off on a positive note which seems a little out of place compared to some of the tracks that come after. In some ways perhaps it could have been better for the ‘story’ of this album to finish on this high-point? “Start Over” remains positive despite set-backs, looking at the times when things haven’t gone as expected and he has had to start over again, there’s a feeling that the end of something that hasn’t worked is a new opportunity. This track enjoys some brilliant instrumental work and some very stylistic vocals which work very well, it’s a nice tight combination.
Lyrically there are some great lines like the opening of “Can’t Stop Loving You” which says “I took the road less travelled, and my car broke down”. Again there is that darker frustrated lyric which is counterpointed by the upbeat tune and the rather flimsy chorus. Ultimately this track is pursuing the dream that you have been given, pursuing the call of God on your life. “Roll With The Punches” is on the surface a fun track, but scratching under the surface this is written from a place of hurt and although the resolution is to roll with the punches it feels like elements of this writing are a raw experience. This feeds straight into the theme of the already mentioned “On My Own”.
“Deep End” is a love song that is added on the end of this EP and I am not sure it doesn’t do any favours to be included on this collection because it actually has the rather slow and depressing sound, yet he is talking about something positive. Maybe this was added for juxtaposition to the rest of the recording, whatever the reason it’s a track that is really a bit unnecessary thematically and musically.
There is a sense of depth lyrically and musically, although possibly it’s a little more bland than some might expect from B. Reith. For the most part he plays to his strength of his very marketable vocals, stretching to something different with the opening track, but otherwise sticking to the singing voice. This album is quite radio friendly and it’s all about experiences, which means that there is a reality behind it and in a couple of tracks he is wearing his heart on his sleeve.
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