When it comes time to create a solo record, vocalists of bands may create something that sounds incredibly similar to their band, or they may venture into something entirely different. On his second solo release (he released the album 7 in 2014) Are You Even There At All? (out today, November 2nd via Equal Vision Records), I The Mighty frontman Brent Walsh explores styles ranging from a capella to R&B and hip-hop to singer-songwriter. And while it’s an enjoyable listen and features common emotional threads throughout, it’s never quite clear what type of an artist he really wants to be as a solo performer. Overall, Are You Even There At All? makes much more sense if it’s taken independently of Walsh’s work in I The Mighty. The EP opens with “Moon Creep”, which blends doo-wop-infused a capella vocals with hints of 90s pop. Though the lyrics feel clumsy, as vocal tracks layer over each other at the end of the track, we’re able to hear just how dynamic he’s capable of being.
Up next is “Cloud’s Song”, which finds Walsh take on a confessional, singer-songwriter style that seems to fit him much better. The track tells the story of a young boy coming to terms with his father leaving, but Walsh’s feelings of confusion and his pleading with God for answers will resonate with anyone finding themselves questioning faith and struggling to find meaning in the universe when life throws them difficult situations. In “More Lucky Than This”, an adorably sentimental story of wanting to grow old with someone, he begins to find his footing singing a sweet love song.
Following this are the EPs two weakest tracks: “Alone But Contently”, a short, piano-backed interlude, which sees Walsh grapple with the idea of being alone though finds no resolution, and “The Way You Seem”, an unsuccessful attempt at both hip-hop and understanding the opposite sex. Finally, the EP closes with “Confession Repentance”, a track that could almost be a Dashboard Confessional B-side.
If this were Brent Walsh’s first solo release, perhaps some jumping around between genres would be understandable. But while some of the tracks on Are You Even There At All? stand out on their own, we still don’t know who it is he truly wants to be as an artist. Maybe there doesn’t have to be one solid answer to that question, but without a definitive sound to characterize it, Are You Even There At All? falls flat.