Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we have a rather compelling performer to shine our gaze upon. David Serero, a veteran French vocalist and actor, has just released his latest studio endeavor, ‘All My Love Is For You.’ The extensive collection of tunes with a traditional pop flair was written, performed, arranged, and produced by Serero himself. That’s impressive right out of the gate. How did he do, though? Let’s find out.
Serero captured my interest as soon as I dug into his biographical information. He’s performed over 800 shows, has an extensive repertoire both live and recorded, and has found significant success playing some incredibly iconic roles on the stage. (In fact, he was met with acclaim for one my all-time favorite characters: Shylock.) I mention this, because I think it’s important to preface Serero’s music with an understanding of the scope of his career. He’s very cultured, and that lends itself nicely to his new album.
‘You Are For Me’ introduces Serero as an intriguing vocalist. Purely based on his surface persona, I was expecting a Michael Buble-esque vocal performance. In actuality, Serero is a baritone, which isn’t something I come across often, at least, not to credible success. It took me a few tracks to warm to Serero’s vocal style, but ultimately, I have. ‘You Are For Me’ sounds like a 1980s Leonard Cohen track. (That’s a high compliment.) I did mention the record has a traditional pop flair, but it does dabble extensively with rock and contemporary pop musings, too. ‘You Are For Me’ exhibits this with bombastic brass sections, a rocking electric guitar backing, and a cacophony of sounds.
Throughout the album, Serero does a fairly good job proving himself as a do-it-yourself independent artist. There aren’t any egregious errors in production or performance. That said, there are some creative decisions that may be worth contesting. Take the second track, the titular tune - it also harkens to the 80s, but in a way that doesn’t age near as well as ‘You Are For Me.’ The synthesizers and harsh percussion are reminiscent of less memorable pursuits from the era. (Instead of Leonard Cohen, think Bob Dylan’s ‘Empire Burlesque.’) This is a faux pas that comes and goes throughout the album, usually whenever synthesizers make the sound feel too overproduced.
‘Someone Makes You Come’ is a return toward ‘You Are For Me,’ which is refreshing. The instrumental backing of Serero is, for the most part, pretty sharp. His brass sections are particularly noteworthy, especially on tracks like ‘Someone Makes You Come.’ My only critique: they overpower Serero. When you have such a deep voice, you don’t soar over the instrumentation like a higher pitched vocalist. At times, Serero has buried himself in his own mix accidentally.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that the finest endeavors on ‘All My Love Is For You’ are the minimalistic ones, such as ‘The Greatest Of Your World.’ Again, though, Serero is undermixed and I had some trouble understanding him. Thus, I could argue that the entirety of the collection would benefit from a mild remaster that centers Serero’s vocals toward the forefront.
‘I Want Your Love With My Love’ isn’t the best track; Serero's voice is undermixed in the main delivery, but is held up by his own harmonizing sections. I dig ‘Make Me Believe In Love,’ and the instrumentation of ‘I Think I’m Gonna Love You My Dear.’ The lyrics are a bit more questionable, as Serero uses the word ‘caress’ one too many times. It’s more than a bit kitschy.
That said, I think this kind of music is designed to be a tad kitschy, a tad cliche. That is what gives it its personality. Serero had to have known that going into it. Out of the final tracks, I’d argue the finest is ‘In My Life Without You,’ an excursion through some production that while intense, seems abundantly fitting to Serero’s personality.
For an entirely self-made effort, this is a pretty decent record. It has its pitfalls, Serero isn’t mixed the best into it, and it is overproduced several times throughout. It has its gems, too, and I think he’s quite a talent that could be tapped better with more production practice and less drum machine and synthesizer banter. It would seem that he’s going to have no shortage of creativity, so I imagine a follow-up with manifest itself in due time. In the meantime, if you dig baritone, pop love ditties, this may be right up your alley.