Brett Randell’s Rise EP begins with a soulful, sensuous inflection on one of his most celebrated singles, ‘The Waitress’. Calling to mind a hip folksiness akin to some of Jason Mraz’s early work, the 28-year-old New Yorker commands the stage in a solo set with nothing but his captivating vocals and guitar work. Whether he’s in his hometown, in Denver or Austin or traveling the Mediterranean, this fact remains the same—and it all translates brilliantly in the studio, to boot.
Like the aforementioned Mraz, Randell finds himself best at home with the wordplay. Invoking a bit of a sexy, soulful sway to the EP’s opening track is hard to top. While it’s entirely objective whether or not any other tunes on the record can hold a light to his seriously scorching opening song, each track that follows his ‘Waitress’ does good to establish him as a multi-faceted songwriter. Randell’s vocal delivery is a sweet blend of R&B swagger and folk sincerity—a combination that doesn’t come about every darn day, but when it does, it naturally lends itself to a beguiling vibe. Pair that with his excellent acoustic arrangements, and there’s no way a singer-songwriter with his capabilities can lose with such a profoundly produced EP.
Every song following the upbeat and sensual ‘Waitress’ is one sort of ballad or another, but Randell works in conjunction with—and not in spite of—the supposed limitations of acoustic production and bursts through them on Rise. He devotes every bit of his voice to delivering lyrics evocative of the many stages of heartache (‘Without You’, ‘Rise’, ‘Ghost’), as well as a particular mystery (‘Enigma’), with just the right sort of emotion laced within them. It’s clear that he’s a heartfelt songwriter, and that’s the real deal of it all, but that he can offer himself so consummately to so many clearly meticulously-crafted arrangements is ingenious in itself.