Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Painted on Water - Chicago Issue EP

When one typically thinks of music with a Turkish influence, you rarely consider elements of rock, electronica, or even R&B soul to play a role. Yet, when longtime collaborators and lovers Demir Demirkan and Sertab Erener, musically known as Painted On Water, made way for Chicago on the next leg of their musical journey, there was no telling what would happen.

The result is the Turkish-based duo’s latest work, the Chicago Issue EP. Following on the heels on the duo’s prior work which saw them channeling elements of Turkish folk together with jazz, rock, and electronica, the Chicago Issue EP finds the tandem taking a new approach.
“For this album, I wanted to change the way we collaborate, change all the methods we use to compose, and come up with new production techniques,” says composer/guitarist/producer Demirkan. “It’s been really liberating.”

That liberation, in large part, involves Painted on Water tapping into the roots of their new home in Chicago and plugging in their guitars for some big, rocking sounds.
“When I Need You Most” gets things rolling with Demirkan showcasing some Peter Frampton like guitar effects alongside some solid synth fills and kicking beats. Erener’s vocals are solid if the lyric is a bit less than inspiring. Still, it’s a strong start, bringing plenty of textures to bear on the opening track.

Painted On Water draws from their Chicago surroundings on “A New Me,” showing off some hints of funk and R&B with jangling guitars and soulful background vocals. It’s a chunky arrangement, letting the track build smoothly through the verse and bump during the chorus and is somewhat reminiscent of work by No Doubt and Gwen Stefani with its pop-flavored elements.
Yet, it’s on “Hating You Loving You” that the band truly hits their finest of strides. Erener’s vocals are at their strongest, rich and resonant as she sings over Demirkan’s perfectly rocking guitar work, ebbing and flowing at exactly the right moments and drawing plenty of emotion into the equation. The lyric is equally strong as Erener pleads, “You’re my addiction I can’t do without/Hungry for you I keep/Hating you loving you/A blind ambition I can’t see without/Leaving you, missing you/I keep hating you, loving you.” It’s clearly the highlight of the EP.

“Why Do You Love Me” draws from more of those pop-rock elements, finding a solid balance between the two, enhanced by some solid keyboards that complement the restless guitars and emotive vocals as much of the lyric draws from none other than the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. An insistent keyboard tone opens up closing track, “Despite Ourselves,” pressing Erener’s vocals along as the track builds, joined by synth and eclectic percussion before emerging into a full-fledged jam as Demirkan plugs in and rocks out. It’s the perfect high-tempo conclusion to the Chicago Issue EP.
And on that EP, Painted On Water do a great job of landing on U.S. soil with their artistic guns blazing, conjuring up a sonic soundscape that brings rock, pop, and soul all together in a signature package. While hints of artists like No Doubt, Dave Gahan, and Evanescence are there, this sound is distinctly Painted on Water’s and it will no doubt leave listeners ready for more.

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