Echostep - 'Pictures in the Sky'

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 afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Echostep, the artistic moniker of James Young, an Ohio-based songwriter who is utilizing the stage name to explore the realm of electronic music. Young’s debut EP, entitled ‘Picture in the Sky,’ was released last Friday. The songs which are introspective in nature, offer some fascinating aural landscapes. Is the EP worth including in one’s indie music collection? Let’s delve into it and find out!

Right out of the gate, the self-analysing ‘Pictures in the Sky’ introduces Echostep as an endeavor with a sound fairly unique unto itself. Young’s vocals are almost within the realm of Phil Collins, but his instrumentation walks a closer line to someone like Brian Eno. Beginning as a very atmospheric, eerie piece, ‘Pictures in the Sky’ eventually evolves into a rock-esque creation that puts Young’s anthemic vocals and lyrics and its center.


That becomes, more or less, the template for the rest of the EP. Young toys with lyricism that one may find in the singer songwriter scene, but he does so with cascading waterfalls of synthesizers and beats. Songs like ‘Just the Same’ offer some of Young’s more intriguing, mysterious lyricism, while ‘I’m Okay,’ the song that follows, is the most surreal, probably showcasing one of the EP’s best vocal presentations, especially with the female backing vocalist. She complements Young splendidly.

Reverb is king on ‘Found,’ a haunting track that centers itself largely around Young’s sporadic vocal crooning and sweeping piano and orchestral sections. Its experimentation actually is quite reminiscent of something Robyn Hitchcock might do. (Young’s voice even has the similar style.) Of the six tracks, ‘Found’ is the stellar stand-out of the bunch.

The final two songs on ‘Pictures in the Sky’ are remixes of the title track, one by Interface and the other by Coldlink. In truth, the former’s heavy emphasis on driving electronic instrumentation cheapens the lovely atmosphere of the original track. Coldlink is much more tactful in their reimagining of the track, and it’s definitely got a bit more edge than Echostep’s first take on the tune. Of the two remixes, Coldink’s is the one worth paying attention to.

‘Pictures in the Sky’ is an excellent little EP, especially for a debut record. The production quality is terrific, and Echostep gives off a studio vibe while maintaining a sound that isn’t sterile or too controlled, either. Fans of electronic, pop, or singer songwriting may certainly find something worth digging into on with ‘Pictures in the Sky.’

Connect with Echostep below and download the EP on Bandcamp now!

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