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 SDLT, the moniker of Santino De La Tore, an internationally lauded musician, composer, songwriter, and vocalist with an extensive resume dating back to the early 1980s. His music career has resulted in a slew of collaborations, several solo albums, and composing work for film, television, smartphone apps, and more. Now SDLT has a new studio endeavor out, a record entitled ‘Sliding Roads.’ Is it worth a listen? Let’s delve deep into it and find out!
‘Sliding Roads,’ which was released earlier this year, is available in its eleven track entirety on YouTube with accompanying lyric videos, making it a particularly easy album to digest. From the opening notes of ‘Smile,’ the record’s tone is set: it’s easy listening, pop-infused singer songwriter music written in a very anthemic style. These are songs to blast from your car stereo on hot summer nights this season. ‘Smile’ is a passionate love tune that’s instantly irresistible - infectious, even.
The entirety of ‘Sliding Roads’ chronologs the ups and downs of relationships, which can easily wander into the realm of cliche. SDLT, however, does a rather good job of avoiding those pratfalls through consistently interesting imagery that spans the entire spectrum of a romantic relationship. “It’s so hard to stay, it’s so hard to just leave,” SDLT croons on ‘Anything Wrong.’ That’s an authentic emotion so many people can likely relate to. Turmoil in a relationship can often tear one apart from the inside out.
The album quickly turns even darker as SDLT sings “my love is black to you” on ‘Every Single Day,’ a haunting song about the downfall of a relationship. It’s a quick and drastic shift from ‘Smile’ two songs before, but in a way, it’s what keeps ‘Sliding Roads’ intriguing throughout. SDLT’s performance on ‘Every Single Day’ is especially good, exuding immense emotion and frustration at a relationship he doesn’t feel is being recripocated evenly.
Instrumentally, ‘Stray Love’ is one of the more varied compositions on the album, toying with wah-wah pedals, thunderous percussion, and so on. It’s fantastic lyrically, too, housing lines the likes of ‘“love is your shangri-la” - what a brilliant line you wouldn’t expect to hear in a pop song. ‘Stray Love’ also boasts one of the most searing, electrifying guitar solos on the album.
“Like the moon, we had phases,” SDLT sings in the melancholy ‘Come Back To Me,’ a song that somberly reminiscences on the aftermath of a relationship and the desire to potentially rekindle that romance. The atmospheric number is strongest in its spine-tingling electric guitar performance, something that SDLT is remarkably strong with in all of these songs.
Right after the halfway point of the record, SDLT enters more ‘rock and roll’ esque territory for the first time with ‘Crime,’ a bombastic production with eclectic lyricism that places SDLT and his lover in a bizarre entanglement of emotional crime and punishment. This same intensity carries on for several tracks, in fact, as if the album was deliberately broken into acts of a sort. ‘Love On The Edge’ feels like the spiritual partner to ‘Crime,’ following with the same sharp lyricism and gritty, rock-oriented production.
‘Burning Desire’ is the only album’s track that likely could have been left on the cutting room floor. While interesting enough, it does recycle much of the sonic and lyrical imagery of the tunes that came before it. There isn’t a point on ‘Burning Desire’ where some sort of relatable or profound statement is made that hasn’t been analysed prior in the album. That is short lived, however, because ‘Waiting For You’ is absolutely lovely.
‘Waiting For You’ is arguably the first carefree love ballad after the album’s first song, ‘Smile.’ “Hold me in your arms and never lose me, and every single time I’d be waiting for you,” SDLT muses on this track that’s just beautiful. It’s complemented by one of the most visually arresting lyric videos of the bunch, too. (That’s very much worth mentioning and not accidentally glossing over: SDLT went through quite a lot of trouble to have quality lyric videos created for every single song. They’re worth taking a look at.)
Of all the album’s tracks, the most emotional might very well be ‘Tell Me Please,’ a song that’s a cry not only to “release your love,” but to open up to someone trying to aid you in a time of strife. It can be quite hard to open up to someone, especially in a dark time in one’s life. ‘Tell Me Please’ is a plight for someone to do that, and it’s not only relatable, it’s unfortunately realistic.
The final song of ‘Sliding Roads,’ ‘Rebel,’ was actually released with a full music video, viewable above. It ends the collection on one of its highest notes, exploding out of your speakers as one of the most dynamic and fascinating acts on the album. It rocks harder than anything before it, the lead vocals are spectacular, and the percussion is ferocious. It’s a terrific track to end an excellent album.
‘Sliding Roads’ does something that’s very hard to do: maintain a whole album on one central theme and keep it interesting. With the exception of ‘Burning Desire,’ the album is enthralling throughout, and every song is very well produced and performed. It’s well worth a listen for any music fans who enjoy rock acts that incorporate a heavy pop sensibility. (Think U2 or the like.) Connect with SDLT below!