The result of trapping artists indoors for months at a time was always going to be art in one form or another. Whether the opportunity to dig in one’s heels and produce a project that’s been long in the making or to try something new entirely, the results of quarantine are beginning to trickle out in singles and EPs. One such bite-sized work is Clint Lowery’s surprise EP “Grief & Distance,” an acoustic collection that includes three new songs and two acoustic versions of tracks from his recently released album. Best known as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of the highly acclaimed Sevendust, 2020 marked Lowery’s first solo release under his own name. The metal-infused rock approach to his solo work followed tentatively in the path that Sevendust has walked for decades, but where “God Bless the Renegades” stepped cautiously, “Grief & Distance” sees Lowery truly breaking out of his shell and moving forth into uncharted waters.
Although “Grief & Distance” is an acoustic endeavor, the tight control over the final production gives it the clear appearance of artistic growth and creativity colliding. Some tentative moments of tenderness, such as the new track “Haunted,” show the willingness and ambition on Lowery’s part to pursue music that is more genuinely emotional and increasingly dynamic compared to “God Bless the Renegades.” However, this EP is still dialed back carefully within Lowery’s established comfort zone with the exception of a few key moments that see him face a greater deal of exposure head-on and without the shield of excessive production. The verses of “Haunted” swell gently alongside the touch of an easy guitar rhythm, with a final polish to give Lowery’s voice a slightly more distant resonance, just subtle enough to avoid becoming intrusive. The appeal of “Haunted” is buried in its surface-level repetition, simple enough to lure in listeners with a false sense of relaxation before final touches of ragged intensity, balancing the slight over-production that dominated opening track “Distance.
“Grief & Distance” also sees a greater emotional depth that bleeds through at its plainest in the acoustic versions of already released tracks, a quick turnaround in the reinvention of a rather recent release. In particular, “What’s the Matter” hears Lowery’s voice reach emotional depths that far surpass his prior established comfort zones in guitar and leading on his solo work. It’s far more plaintive, pleading in an unrequited sense of grief and anguish that perfectly matches the sentiment of the EP’s title. Beginning as a pale imitation of the pop-rock bite that defines the original version, “What’s the Matter” quickly swells with the raw power of a raging storm in Lowery’s voice isolated above a gentle guitar. Capturing the tumultuous tides of the human spirit left alone with itself for too long, Lowery finds the potential to strike listeners directly in the most broken parts of their soul.
Most of all, this is an EP that seems heavily invested in Lowery’s authentic self, one that is more raw and vulnerable, a fact laid plain in both “What’s the Matter” and “The Kings.” Offering acoustic versions of songs that were so recently released, this time with the benefit of time alone from the world, has revealed the multidimensional nature of Lowery’s original work as well as the sonic potential he may extend to future releases. The faith and confidence expressed in “God Bless the Renegades” has evolved into a maturely hushed quietude, self-reflection which is evident in smooth passages of acoustic guitar and unfiltered vocal deliveries. A clear step away from the shadow of Sevendust and an expression of the self that emerges relatively late in Lowery’s career, “Grief & Distance” is a promising look at the gems that an unexpected global quarantine has in store for the future of music
Released By: Rise Records
Release Date: June 12th, 2020
- Clint Lowery – Guitar, Vocals
“Grief & Distance” Track-listing:
- I’m Wrong
- What’s the Matter (Acoustic Version)
- The Kings (Acoustic Version)
An acoustic reinvention of Clint Lowery’s talent extends a surprisingly emotional exploration into the human spirit, one which reaches beyond the songwriter’s previously established comfort zones.