I am having a hard time figuring out if ‘prog-rock-acoustic-pop-other stuff‘ artist Axel Mansoor would be better off crafting out a career in the 1970’s. This isn’t to say his music is dated. As a matter of fact, it’s incredibly modern and pulls influences from great names in contemporary sounds. Yet, something tells me Axel Mansoor would fit into the upper echelon of Wonder-era circa-1975. But, that’s just me. Kickstarter, the online funding platform, didn’t exist in 1975 (the internet barely did); and through this fundraising site, coupled with a quality foundation, massively supportive fans and good music, Mansoor’s debut EP was made possible. So in 1975, Axel Mansoor would have had to wow some professional disc jockey or cigar-smoking record executive; today, he wows fans. For what it’s worth, I appreciate the progression. Of course, this “growing up in different times” is really a question largely relegated to those who like to ponder over hypothetical questions while sipping soberly from the latest designer coffee or drug .
Whether in the seventies or today, Mansoor, is absorbing; his voice weaves and bounces along pleasantly, and he is a chameleon, in many ways. Many artists drop entire albums of material, (even whole careers), that are not as lively or progressive as his debut EP ‘The Inside Voices.’
The EP consists of 4 tight tracks, each one playing off the other to build a collected album. You can tell that Mansoor finds comfort and confidence in battling different sounds, and he achieves this with almost flawless ease through just these four songs. Each track represents a different aspect of his musical approach. Gotta Let Go pulls the classical card with symphonic instruments and pianos, and adds a thick and ridiculously well-produced main hook to highlight the song. In short, it is astringently addicting.
‘An Apology’ finds Mansoor playing a more conventional approach to his sound. It’s radio-fit, surely, relying on the intrepid sounds of artists such as John Mayer. Vocally, he sounds like a more serious ‘Seal,’ whose cheesiness overrides his radiant voice.
Instrumentally, the songs are surprisingly thick and approachable. By no means complex, they convey a kindness and warmth, particularly on ‘Trouble,’ that is equally heartwarming and honest. I guess it comes as little surprise that Mansoor knows no music theory, not that a fanciful degree in musical composition is necessary to write music that is as soulful and sweet as he does. As a matter of fact, it may even detract- but that is a whole other hypothetical question for a whole other day.
He toys with old school prog-rock to close the EP with full effect. It may not be the most financially viable choice for the young artist, but it is absolutely the one that is most inherently interesting. The track builds and wanders through its five minutes, and is the best raw vocal performance on the EP.
Axel Mansoor is early into his musical career- very early. Four songs deep and he is already showing he has at least four musical directions to explore in the future. Many artists alienate and frustrate fans by tackling too many ideas all with less fulfilling results. It will be interesting to see Mansoor hone into the direction he truly trusts and believes in, or if he will abandon tight focus and explore all the roads at once. Like a cloned chameleon, the world is limitless, and he can change at the drop of a hat. ‘The Inside Voices’ proves his talent with full admiration. Let’s only hope the audience can gather long enough to see the artist ignite and emblazon the trail to full fruition.
Ryan Merkel is a writer on music, pop culture, entertainment, business, and all those other fun things which make life tick. He is an entrepreneur, designer, and overall pop culture enthusiast. Ryan owns the clothing line LoveMended with his wife, which focuses on fashion and charity, as well as the music blog CultureTease. Ryan is the author of two novels, and currently lives in Florida.