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Anthony Raneri, inked up and easy on the ear, graces us with a debut solo EP, without his band Bayside holding him back. Or, perhaps, holding him in place.

While Raneri undoubtedly floats some decent tracks the listener's way, his quiet warble is, for the most part, something fit for an ensemble.

This isn't to say that he doesn't appeal impressively, at least in the high points of the five-song New Cathedrals.

For instance, I'm a sucker for a good ballad. A song that tells an interesting story but remains in the cunning waters of its artist's talent is a weakness of mine, and also a rarity among the albums I've reviewed. So went The Ballad of Bill the Saint. It's a relatively short number, but the technical components of a good ballad are in the right spots. Simple acoustic guitar: Raneri nailed it. Voice: ultimately, melodious (however, on some occasional notes it strays into the whiney domain of soprano abusers such as NeverShoutNever).

This brings us to the fundamental drawbacks of the album. With only five songs, especially in a debut, Raneri should have some sort of wow factor. Some saving grace to outweigh his vocal shortcomings. Songs such as Please Don't Leave are tangy ear candy, but overall, nothing more.

Jason Mraz took the industry (kind of) by storm with this cute kind of music, and even then it was underwhelming. Raneri brings songs worth hearing to the table, but in the end they're nothing new.

GRADE - New Cathedrals - ***

* * *


* * * * * Can you marry a thing that's not a person?

* * * * Silver medals are still cool.

* * * Nobody's perfect.

* * Its mom still loves it.

* No, just no.