Deal with the Devil
Deal with the Devil is available at:
13th July 2016
IT is great to discover a solo artist that comes…
out of nowhere really. I feel this year is going to be defined by bands and their music. In terms of the underground, there is a remarkable blend of solo singers: each with their own course and sense of style. In relation to the mainstream; the balance is different: the bands are stealing focus and producing some of the best music around. Before I come to my featured artist; I wanted to look at musicians from Boston (where he hails); the young solo artists breaking through; looking at the elements that are overlooked when it comes to music. In the U.S., we often get distracted by New York or Californian- a point I have raised before- and obsess ourselves with what’s coming from there. It is understandable; as both areas are bound with great music and a busy, cosmopolitan scene. Push your imagination further, and America provides so much more. I have had the pleasure of going to various states (online) and discovering some terrific music. Boston is a city that has always produced solid and inspiring artists. From Pixies and Aerosmith; The Dresden Dolls to Blake Babies: Boston is a vibrant and captivating musical arena. In terms of modern Boston acts; Palehound are worth investigating further. Ellen Kempner’s project; the music provided is gentle and finger-picked; a dreamy and emotional sound that has resonated with critics. The Ballroom Thieves and Dutch ReBelle are two diverse, and stunning, acts that are putting Boston on the map. ReBelle’s Hip-Hop, beat-laden jams are getting recognition from the likes of M.T.V. The Drax and Funeral Advantage (all acts picked up by Boston.com) tell you how much quality and passion is coming from the city.
Animal Talk, Bent Shapes, and Bearstronaut, between them, provide clean, uplifting and intriguing songs: a trio of groups that have the potential to transcend into the mainstream and reach across the world. My point is how variegated and applaud-worthy the Boston scene is. That is just the tip of the iceberg really. I know there are local bars and venues that play host to some truly awesome musicians- those that never reach the consciousness of the media. The British press is a little lackluster when it comes to exposing the best America has to offer. I am never entirely sure whether there is a reason behind this: perhaps it is too daunting getting to grips with everything in the U.S. I have always mooted the idea of a music site that compartmentalises musicians by region and genre. Everyone would be able to hone in on a city/country and go even deeper- discover all the artists that play in a particular city. That way, if you wanted to find all the acts coming from Boston, you would click and have a comprehensive list. Having heard Greer Wilson: I am keen to dig deeper and see more of what Boston has to offer up. Greer is a 19-year-old musician that has seemingly exploded onto the scene with a bang. In spite of the fact he has a few songs to his name; there are signs to suggest he might be one of the big-hitters in years to come. What marks him out is the freshness and unexpectedness of his music. Not replicating other bands and artists: he is a unique talent that is already getting attention from the local press. Greer’s looks will likely get teenage girls swooning and incapacitated: his music will get everyone similarly entranced. Having sung since the age of eight; that passion and commitment feeds into the songs. Greer is a young man that has his sights set and is making big strides. Love Me Less and Deal with the Devil are twin tracks that are being shared and celebrated on social media. Each track has its distinct influence and make-up but both prove the same thing: the Boston artist is someone with a very special talent.
We in the media place a lot of emphasise the importance of age when considering brand-new talent. The young the artist, the more vacillating and sweating the reviewer becomes. I feel too much pressure is placed on shoulders right from the off. Yes, there is something impressive about someone so young getting into music; releasing music and achieving a degree of recognition and acclaim. If we are too pressurising and expect too much; there is that fear (that artist) will burn-out and not be able to live up to the hype. In the mainstream (in the U.K.) everyone from Billie Marten and Dua Lipa have overcome the hurdles of youth. Marten is barely in her teens- think she is 16 still- and balances school work with music. Her majestic voice and ethereal, soul-baring songs suggest she is going to be a huge star very soon- already, the nation’s biggest radio stations are proffering her music. Dua Lipa, whose music is sexier and more Pop-based, is filled with confidence and sassiness. She takes influence from the likes of Rhianna but is very much her own woman- an incredible artist and down-to-Earth human. My general point is we should celebrate the great young artists but not put too much on their shoulders. It is scary getting into music and especially so for those in their teens/early-20s. Greer is in his teens still but shows a lot of maturity and direction from the off. Not your average Pop star who sings shallow songs and lyrics written by a host of producers: a proper singer who is unique and exceptional.
What hits me about Greer is the unique D.N.A. that springs from his music. Fresh, compelling beats; sweet, Soul-tinged vocals and thoughtful lyrics mean the music really leaps out at you. Too many artists distort their vocals or bury it in the composition. Others copycat others or seem somewhat generic. Greer lets the vocal take charge and is tricky to compete with other singers. Sure, he would have grown up around a variety of musicians- from his parents’ collection perhaps- but is not content to duplicate them. His songs dig deep into the heart and come from a very real place; love and relations are put under the microscope but given a new spin. Not resigned to let the vocal and lyrics say everything: so much colour, emotion and physicality is put into the music. The entire effect is quite amazing. You get drawn into this wonderful world and brought directly into Greer’s world. Deal with the Devil is a song that is garnering attention in the U.S. but could well make its way to the U.K. I know stations and fans here would love getting to grips with a singular, exceptional track like this.
The past few months have been very busy for Greer Wilson. He has released three songs- Blow Your Mind; Deal with the Devil; Love Me Less– and there is a lot of variation between the tracks. Blow Your Mind has racing, juddering electronics and an urgent vocal. It is a song as intense and powerful as the title suggests. It is very much a song that has its eyes on the Pop charts and mainstream radio. Confident, committed vocals back a perfect summer song that stays inside the head. It is fresh and vibrant; sizzling and upbeat: the perfect Pop number for new followers of Greer. Love Me Less (like Deal with the Devil) are harder, tougher songs that bring in new elements. Less Pop-based with more R&B/Soul elements: the composition is more varied and prescient. Blow Your Mind focused on the lyrics and the sheer energy of the song. The new singles place more emphasis on the complete package. The vocal is given more chance to breathe and grow; the composition brings in beats, lovely little details whilst the lyrics are a dichotomy. Blow Your Mind was a perfect introduction and way to gain instant recognition. Keen not to repeat himself; Greer has shown a more adult, bold approach now. Love Me Less is a song that urgencies a certain lack of commitment. Wanting to vibe and connect with a girl, if not commit to a relationship, there is a casualness and looseness to the song. Yeah, we can have a good time but that does not mean we need to be joined at the hip.
There is nothing callous or shallow. The song is a paen to good times and just having a blast. You can sense that mood in the track and it sweeps you up and creates smiles and memorability. Deal with the Devil was a track I was motivated to investigate due to its layers and depths. The composition alone is so busy whilst the vocal is the most direct and pure of Greer’s career. Even over the course of three tracks, you can hear a development and evolution from the young American. A couple of years ago; the E.P., The Sounds introduced Greer to the world. More in coming with Blow Your Mind (than his two new songs); it ensured tongues were wagging and attentions were captured. Again, the songs were more Pop-focused and chart-seeking. The production values were strong but feel they have improved now- more polished and complete. Greer has grown as a singer and seems distinct and soulful: he has more variation and moods; greater nuance too. This rate of change will surely see a new record reveal itself in the coming months? Greer has a range of songs at his disposal and I know the creative juices will keep flowing. Being 19 still: there is a lot of years ahead; you can see him getting bigger and better. As it stands, he is one of the most complete and hungry young artists around.
It has been a matter of days since Deal with the Devil dropped and already there has been heat and love put its way. The title leaves you in little doubt as to the emotions and story that influenced its creation. Clearly not emanating from a happy place: it recalls a rather duplicitous and deceitful sweetheart; someone who has been dishonest and hurtful. The Americans social media numbers are quite modest at the moment but that is going to change. When Deal with the Devil gains plaudit and attention: he will find himself adored around the globe. The opening notes of the track have sighing, edgy electronics creating a very unsettled mood. At once, you are planted in a tense and dangerous scenario. Those electronic warps and pulses get the hairs on end and the listener curious. Many might expect something direct and heavy from the off: Greer ensures there is a build-up and instancy blend; so many emotions in the first seconds. Our hero starts out giving some backstory and setting the scene. His subject has her heart set and is getting ready; there is something in the air and the night is just getting started. Maybe trusting his instincts and hopeful: the initial lyrics suggest a date is starting and the two have high hopes at least. Wilson’s vocal has deepness to it but remains composed and restrained. He does not explode out the gates or come across too insincerely. Letting the electronics and finger clicks create a perfect backdrop: Deal with the Devil seems to be a narrative from the girl’s point of view. Maybe recalling a personal relationship; perhaps one a friend had: the song starts to get hotter and more accusatory. Mind erasing and a sense of recklessness are portrayed. The duo is stepping into the night with different objectives. The heroine has no angels by her side: she is leading the hero astray and setting him up for a fall.
Greer’s voice raises the stakes and has a degree of anxiety lingering- ensuring the song’s words are given appropriate weight. As the song progresses; I find myself feeling sympathetic towards Greer. It is impossible to hear Deal with the Devil and not think about personal issues: this song must have emanated from an experience in his life. The chorus comes in big and those beats come up front. Tribal and bellicose; sexy and hip-snaking: a sound that projects images of the girl in your mind. You can see the smirk on her face; the red dress gleaming in the night; drink in hand- a femme fatale that has led many men to the rocks. Few artists put as much attention and thought into the chorus as Greer. Most Pop stars would simply throw everything into the mix and assume numbers and volume compensate for emotion and intelligence. Deal with the Devil’s beats tumble and patter: a wonderful sound that has its own gravity and appeal. Look away from the composition and the lyrics keep resounding. The song’s heroine has few morals and is contented to play games and throw men aside- our hero is the latest victim. “I’ve got you sinning now” the girl exclaims: following a bad path and dancing to his tune. Maybe (Greer) was reluctant to become involved but seemed helpless to her charms. Being taken down to the underground; going deep into the fires- the deal has been signed and there is no turning back. Each new utterance makes me wonder just who inspired the song and whether Greer is the affected party. He could be working from a point of fiction but the sheer conviction of the vocal suggests otherwise. Still scarred and affected by the relationship: it has made a deep impact in his soul.
The final minute finds the chorus swinging back in to reinforce the messages and underlying feelings, Every time the chorus comes in its gains new significance and quotability. While you will sing along with it; you know there is a hurt and anger being revealed. Greer is not just speaking from a personal viewpoint: this is a message to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. It is hard to listen to Deal with the Devil and not take something away from it. On the surface, it might seem like a pretty regular Pop-cum-R&B numbers. Look closely, and it is a lot more detailed and complex than that. Greer Wilson may be young but he has been making music for a while now. Every element of the song seems inconsistent with expectation. Maybe it is the maturity- perhaps the subversion of Pop tropes- but the song has a richness and depth to it. That might just be my interpretation but you need to listen to the song. It has summery vibes but at its heart looks at alluring girls who deceive men and toy with their hearts. This is a subject that has been portrayed in music a lot but Greer gives it his own edge and brings new life to the theme. The Boston musician is lauded in his hometown and is likely to be a bigger name in years to come. I am always sceptical when approaching musicians and the acclaim they get- some reviewers do get carried away. When it comes to Greer Wilson; the celebration and attention is more than justified.
Greer is among a sea of young artists that are all vying for critical acclaim and progression. So many seem to crumble under the weight of things and find it hard to compete. It is sad discovering a musician only to find they are daunted and buried in the music scene. Challenging to promote and safeguard every great artist that comes through- we must make the scene less pressurised and safer. I am not sure how we would go about it but too much talent is being wasted and quitting too soon. Maybe it is the sheer numbers that make that solution impossible. I am uncertain but do know a great artist when I see one. He is a young Bostonian that is making waves in the city and is someone who could crack the U.S. in general. He has the smouldering looks and grown-up, authoritative music to back it all up. If you look past the looks; a very credible and distinguished musician can be found. His subject matter might tread familiar, well-worn ground- the issues of bad love and self-discovery- but the subjects are covered with fresh insight and different angles. That is part of the challenge I guess. Love and relations are always going to be a commodity musicians stick with: how do you go about giving a fresh lick of paint to that milieu? It is a challenge but fortunately Greer straddles that hurdle and sticks in the imagination. From the first notes (of his tracks) he engages the listener and ensures they are hooked. I opened by looking at the great acts coming from Boston; the brilliant young artists that are emerging and the vitality of original music. Greer Wilson is in a city that has a great reputation and solid legacy. The press and musical community is supportive and big; there are plenty of venues and areas he could gig- chance for his songs to be heard by all sorts of people. I know Greer has a lot of love for Massachusetts but can see him emigrating to California in the future. He seems like a young man that would be enticed by the sea, sun and busy cities; his music sounds Californian, in an odd way. I think of Boston and look at harder, more Rock-based sounds. Greer’s smoother, more Pop/Soul-focused songs have a sunshine vibe to them but a rich emotional core and sensitivity.
Greer has only released a handful of singles- Blow Your Mind was a confident early step- and seems like there is a lot more work left in him. I can see his songs going together in an E.P. Each of his songs has a consistency and thread running through them. Maybe an E.P. would be out before the end of the year? There is a lot of food for thought from someone who is getting exposure and spotlight placed on him. Like I mentioned up-top; there is no need to put strain and too much weight on the young artists emerging. I like Greer’s way of working and the music he has created. There is modesty to him and a maturity. At the moment, he is content to get the music out and let the audience feedback; get his face out there and ensure (his songs) are heard far and wide. In the U.S., Greer is gathering steam and is liable to be a big star there very soon. Little is known about him in the U.K. but that will all change. We have many, similar artists like him here and there is a definite demand. London is an obvious place he could come play. There are so many different venues that would house him and put him on. Maybe he has other views and wants to stay homebound for now. Tracks like Deal with the Devil have radio appeal but more credibility than that. Sure, they could rule the airwaves and speak with the Pop-hungry core (young girls and teenagers) but there is enough depth to connect with older listeners and those who prefer their music edgier and less predictable. I have suggested an E.P. might be forthcoming but in reality, Greer has a golden opportunity ahead of him. His music is garnering a lot of traction and that leave various roads ahead. Maybe he goes touring and takes in the U.S. as much as possible. Perhaps he capitalises on the focus and does more promotion or interviews. He might be looking back at the studio and eager to lay down some more songs. Whichever route he takes, it will be exciting to see. Few young musicians are so instant and loveable as Greer Wilson.
I urge those reading to study Greer and listen to the music out there. This year keeps getting stronger and better for music. Every day seems to reveal a stunning new album or piece of news. In the next month, albums from Dinosaur Jr., Wild Beasts, and Blossoms are emerging. In September, Jamie T. unveils his new one. De La Soul are back as are DJ Shadow and The Avalanches. Such a strange and busy year already: the same can be applied for new musicians in the underground. Last year, there were some definite highlights but not enough. Conversely, 2016 has been much more prosperous and quality-laden. Greer is working tirelessly to ensure he is a young man you do not forget in a hurry. That will be difficult after you immerse yourself in Deal with the Devil.
NOT regret it.