David Vertesi

Cardiography

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You might not imagine that playing bass for Hey Ocean! would be a promising training ground for a singer and songwriter, but David Vertesi, who has been holding down that position for some time now, turns out to have some skills he hasn't revealed in his work with the group. Vertesi's first solo album, Cardiography, is an intelligent and introspective collection of tunes about affairs of the heart, accompanied by a spare, evocative production informed by lo-fi pop rather than Hey Ocean!'s playful light funk. While Vertesi has a sure hand with a melody, these songs are often downbeat even as they're tuneful and inviting, and the melodies are a good match for the lyrics, which often concern the many ways relationships can go wrong and the emotional flotsam they leave in their wake. While some tunes are cloudy with a playful edge (such as "Gentlemen Say"), more often songs like "Learn to Run" and "Hearts Don't Break, People Do" are quiet, thoughtful meditations on failed love affairs and the damage suffered by all parties involved. This is a far cry from Vertesi's work with Hey Ocean!, and he's to be commended for making a solo album that he clearly could not have recorded within the context of his band, but sometimes he seems to be reaching a bit too far as he examines the dour side of his nature. These songs are sincere and honestly felt, but the relentless focus on heartache gets to be a bit much by the time the album draws to a close, despite the strength of Vertesi's songs and the clever, sympathetic production by Jose Miguel Contreras. Vertesi may have recorded Cardiography to get away from this band's slightly forced cheerfulness, and this music sounds like it comes from the heart, but the message is a shade monotonous after 42 minutes, though there's no denying this is a promising solo debut and Vertesi is a songwriter worth watching in the future.

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