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’re going to be shining our gaze on Saphyre Rain, an independent outfit that has just released their debut studio endeavor, an EP entitled ‘Break The Cycle.’ The five-song EP is a well-produced, rather interesting jaunt through independent rock with a unique flair. Let’s dig right into it and figure out what it’s all about.
Saphyre Rain carries themselves differently than most rock outfits. Their masthead isn’t a self-promotion, it’s a link to suicide prevention helplines that are open twenty-four-seven. Austin and Amanda Harras, a husband and wife duo, have banded together with their new music to make an important statement: you’re not alone. Your pain can, more or less, be a catalyst for good.
Right off the bat, I find this approach to music, and this mission statement, very admirable. “Somebody cares,” Amanda croons over the intense, anthemic chorus of the opening track, ‘Live.’ The instrumentation is splendid, mixing hard rock bar chord rhythm with synthesizers, sharp lyricism, and atmospheric musings. My only quip is Amanda’s vocals. They’re mixed a bit too low on the louder portions of the song which causes her to be drowned out. That’s a shame, and a remix may be massively beneficial.
‘We Won’t Give Up’ is another tune that suffers similar vocal mixing issues. It may be worth mentioning that I spun the EP twice - on studio monitors and on studio headphones. In the latter, Amanda is more understandable, but it's still an issue. Essentially, the whole EP could do with a vocal remix. Putting that aside, though, let’s talk about the other elements. ‘We Won’t Give Up’ has a particularly good set of lyrics that feel inspirational without feeling cliche.
The clear sincerity of Saphyre Rain probably keeps them from entering cliche territory. They’re tackling something they’re passionate about, not writing mindless “inspirational rock.” ‘Glow’ boasts some interesting melodies and vocal sections. There’s definitely a pop sensibility to the duo’s writing. The strongest of their endeavors, however, is most certainly the lovely ‘My Heaven.’ The song is simply gorgeous. It’s exceptional instrumentation and heartfelt lyricism makes it the centerpiece of the album.
Then, ‘Come Back’ closes out the album with a pretty bombastic, hard rocking note. I love how concrete the production is, perhaps with the exception of that low vocal mix. Saphyre Rain creates a very full landscape. Their music doesn’t just occupy that landscape well, it dominates it, and every piece fits together in a fairly masterful, genre-bending puzzle. It’s a joyful sound of rock and roll and good vibrations set to harsh tones typically reserved for angst and frustration.
‘Break The Cycle’ will hopefully help people. It’s not just an album to be enjoyed, it’s an album a great many of us live. Depression, anxiety, and mental illness are very real realities. Music is one of the finest ways to connect with humans - it’s the universal language. As cliche as that sounds, it’s true. I’ll never forget Bob Dylan’s ‘Time Out Of Mind’ getting me through my first serious break-up. I could see ‘Break The Cycle’ helping someone in a hard situation, too. Check it out below.