by Patricia Jones
Music is a powerful entity. It has the power to stir emotions, compel action, offer support and understanding, and build communities. The harbingers of sound who create the soundtracks to our lives are like mythical gods, manifesting destinies with their every pluck, strum, and word. A stroke of their pen can create a mess or a masterpiece. Their willingness to give so much of themselves to their craft and being left vulnerable to criticism takes an immeasurable amount of courage many cannot fathom if they don’t have the calling. That courage is especially strong when it comes to local bands because there is no trust already in place for them. So, regardless of taste in music, there has to be a respect in place for any band that musters the courage to set foot on a stage, because their calling is -for a moment- stronger than their fear and they are chasing the dream.
That being said, not all bands are going to make it. Not every band is destined to make it. This is a harsh reality many will come to realize along the way as bands break up, music flops, and dreams die, but there is no shame in this. The music was merely a landmark on their path, a tool to help them on their journey and not everyone’s journey ends up at the finish line with a record deal. This will be the case for many, but for a select few the light at the end of their tumultuous tunnel will be notoriety and success. My prediction is that this is where the fate of Reason Define is headed.
These ladies have proven to have the tenacity and passion for manifesting their dreams into reality and the talent to back it up. Their album Far From Strangers is a mixtape of emotion and technique that is backed by a rawness that is gripping without being exaggerated. The layering and production on the album are clean and unmarred by overcomplicated synthetics and allows their raw talent to shine. Songs like “Start Me Over,” “Kingdom” and “Lock & Key” shine a light on the vocals and lyrical depth of Paolina Massaro, as well as the intricate string work of guitarists Shelby McVicker and Savannah Ruff. On the song “Spades” all the components come together to give everyone a chance to shine by rolling out the heavy percussion and bass from drummer Sydney McVicker and bassist Caitlin Cassell.
Their transformation and rebranding from The Reason You Stayed to Reason Define at the end of 2016 was a brilliant move by this killer quintet; it represented the transition from an unintentionally co-dependent and submissive association to a more empowered, independent incarnation. Now, they define themselves, they’re making their own rules, and it doesn’t matter if you stay or not, because the game has changed and their momentum won’t be stopped. In their new music, you have songs like “Evanescent” where the are lyrics describe the failing and loss of a relationship with lyrics like “are we treading water or have we drowned?” Here the song title choice is incredibly intelligent and deliberate. Choosing the word “evanescent” meaning “soon passing out of sight or memory or existence” says a lot about the mental capacity of this band their search for something deeper and looking to make those intellectual connections even when covering a topic as common as relationships gone bad.
“Thieves” is a personal favorite because of the composition of the strings, the arrangement, and the clarity and emotion of the vocals. It resonates and makes an impact that the listener on many levels, the surface and the emotional heft of the lyrics. Massaro’s vocal dynamics are on point in this track as she explores the upper end of her range into an almost falsetto, elevating the poignancy. It is both an energizing and compelling song, but also an intimate and visceral sonic experience and rush.
Watching them live, these ladies can move. Their boundless energy and enthusiasm are infectious and at times exhausting to watch because they never stop moving. There is little more satisfying than watching artists who love what they do and have genuine gratitude for the opportunity to do what they love. This is the experience you get at a Reason Define show from beginning to end. It’s not a performance, it’s performance art and they give entirely of themselves. A Reason Define performance isn’t a presentation or a show for the sake of putting on a show, but it appears to be just as much for them as it is for the audience. They aren’t counting down the minutes until they can run off stage, woefully eye rolling at the setlist to see how many songs are left. They appear to be having the time of their lives and that kind of joy is infectious and amazing.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Far From Strangers yet on iTunes or wherever you buy music, check it out today. If you haven’t checked out Reason Define live yet, GO TO A SHOW. Hell, go to any local show at a club near you. While these ladies definitely deserve a listen, there are countless other locals that deserve a chance to impress you, too.
“The locals you ignore today will be your idols tomorrow.”- Me