Released April 2015
by Roc Nation
Pittsburgh native Kevin Garrett who is currently located in New York City was just in
town for “Beat Cancer Pittsburgh,” at Hard Rock Cafe. Garrett will be back in town
this Saturday for the Thrival Innovation and Music Festival. We decided to review Garrett’s
album released earlier this year in preparation for the fest. Check out Brett Stewart’s
‘Mellow Drama’ is a sophisticated, well executed collection of tunes that are infused
with soul, pop, and soft rock influence. Garrett crafts a wholly unique sonic landscape
that he occupies remarkably well. Thus, it’s not surprising to see he’s getting around
the nation this fall and winter on a pretty extensive tour. Let’s dig into the songs.
‘Coloring’ opens ‘Mellow Drama’ with some incredibly, well… mellow vibes. The
piano-driven ballad combines Garrett’s falsetto croons with some sparse, but tight
beats and rising instrumentation. Around the halfway point of the song, it becomes
increasingly more complex with layered vocals, synthesizers, and eventually a full
drum kit. This Phil Spector-esque wall of sound is as haunting as it is intriguing.
‘Pushing Away’ continues Garrett’s jaunt through pop and soul influence. Much more
upbeat than its predecessor, the song utilizes some familiar pop sensibilities with some
atmospheric production. It’s worth touching on Garrett’s lyrical content as well. It’s not
terribly deep, but the young songsmith eloquently provides some compelling ballads
and pop tunes throughout ‘Mellow Drama.’
‘Control’ is much more akin to ‘Coloring’ than ‘Pushing Away.’ This reverb-soaked
number relies heavily on Garrett’s soaring, smooth vocals and droning
instrumentation. In particular, this song exhibits Garrett as a potentially powerful soul
performer – the vocal pieces are truly exceptional. ‘Come Up Short’ is very similar,
perhaps too similar. The song feels like an extension of ‘Control’ rather than its own
‘Never Knock’ ends ‘Mellow Drama’ the way it began: with a piano-led, pop-tinged
ballad. It’s a fitting ending, but it does open the stage for my one and only critique of
Garrett: he’s going to have to evolve a bit more to maintain a consistently interesting
repertoire. While each of these songs is solid in its own right, a few of them sound a bit
too much like the others. Garrett recycles musical themes and production techniques
throughout. It’s okay, because it is such a short little EP, but if this was a full LP, it
would be a far more severe issue.
‘Mellow Drama’ is a wonderful little collection of tunes. Even though they all sound a
bit like one another, they’re undeniably smooth listening very much worth your time.
Check out the record now and follow Garrett online to keep tabs on his extensive tour.
Review By Brett Stewart for SSE