One Track Mind: Freddie Atlas, “Vain” from Dreams (2013)

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Sounding a bit like Elton John if he’d gotten himself locked outside of an impressionistic art exhibit on a stormy night, “Vain” comes trickling in almost as if it’s atop a lazy stream – until a thunderclap makes clear that these are the first falling raindrops of a looming storm.

Soon, “Vain” — the opening single from this Montreal native’s upcoming EP Dreams — is surrounded by a twilit group of strings, and then a stunning silence that serves as a greeting to this confidential, quietly emotional piano signature.

Atlas’ lyric finally arrives in this moment of profound quietude, giving every word (every syllable, really) a greater resonance. Singing with little accompaniment, he delves deeper into the theme — an exploration of the oneness that surrounds true love, if only we’re willing to complete the circle.

Moving into a stunningly vulnerable higher vocal range, Atlas gives himself completely to that hope, before returning to another searching aside on the piano. The precipitation falls more slowly now, as “Vain” ultimately fades, creating an atmospheric conclusion to a song so filled with narrative and musical flourishes that it feels like closing the back cover of a particularly engrossing book.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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