Prime Cuts: Feel It, Two Steps Back, Footsteps
When Landry Cantell sings about adrenaline pumping out of the stereo in the first track of his latest eponymous release "Feel It," you know he isn't lying. Bursting with an ever-ready kinetic energy that is irresistibly contagious, when Cantrell sings, you can almost swear he's ready to jump out of the speakers himself. "Feel It," the lead single from the record, is a song with the word "hit" stamped all across it. There's nothing that can blight a track like this: its infectious groove, its easy-on-the-ear melody, and its message about enjoying life conscious that it's God's good gift are ingredients that make up this great song. "Smile" (not the Nat King Cole classic, but a Cantrell original) continues on the similar theme where Cantrell puts into sonic expression the Biblical teaching that our joy in the Lord is never predicated on our happenstances.
Yet, for those of us not familiar with Landry Cantrell, a word of introduction is called for. This eponymous album is already this 22 year-old's fifth album. In fact, he has been cutting records since he was as young as 15. While many of his peers were still fighting off puberty blues, Cantrell has already composed and produced a full-length musical, "The Rich & The Wretched," which enjoyed a successful hometown run as well as touring through 10 California cities from Eureka to Bakersfield. On top of his prodigious musical outputs, Cantrell has completed a three-year curriculum to receive a Master's Certificate in Music Technology and Production from Berklee College of Music. He also serves as a recording engineer at JNP Studios and a worship leader at his church, First Pentecostal Church of Hanford.
Never one to be stymied in a rut, this new album finds Cantrell stepping up to the plate as the engineer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and co-producer (with Sean Hill). Further, he also has had a hand of co-writing or writing all the songs. Many of which have been weaved with pages of his autobiography. The metaphorically controlled "Chasing Stars" which speaks of a sailor searching for safety gives vocabulary to Cantrell's own search for God. But the album's gem is definitely "Two Steps Back." This schoolhouse R&B ballad avails for Cantrell to showcase his sumptuous tenor and falsetto that calls to mind George Michael when he was singing "Praying for Time." While the keys driven "Footsteps" is a touching piece; it is the type of song that gives affirmation in God's providence when our faith is wobbly.
Fans who like the sounds of Euro-driven amped-up electronic swirls and the crashing wall of electronic drums would love "When I Found You." And with "Angel," Cantrell takes a U-turn back to the do-wop sounds of the 50s where he gives thanks to God for blessing him with the lady in his life. Though this record is independently released, there's nothing that hints on the sloppiness of sound or production that often accompany such records. Rather, fresh sounding, theologically astute and passionately engaging, mark my words, Landry Cantrell is a name to watch.