Klef Notes

Music Reviews

Ian Guerin "Irreplaceable"

Remember the music back in the day that made you think?  Made you change your ways – change your mind?  Made you fall in love or out of love? Or simply placed you in a better mood than what you were in when you first stepped inside of the room?  Well, I am l so happy to give to my readers a collection of music that presents itself as that apparatus that sets the mood with honest storylines, rich vocal approaches, and modern infused retro melodies.  This collection is entitled “Irreplaceable” and it comes from the mind, and voice, of Los Angeles’ Ian Guerin. 

Guerin is a Modern RnB/Pop recording artist, songwriter, producer who is blending nostalgic R&B/Soul melodies with fresh percussive beats, synths, and tempos.  He is not your standard Modern artist; he keeps the story within the music and never compromises the vibe – it’s R&B/Pop with heart and a purpose.  Let’s dive right in! 

Thirteen tracks tell the story of modern love and all its complexities and pleasures:  

  1. A Different Affair
  2. Free Time
  3. Cry
  4. Irreplaceable
  5. Roll the Dice
  6. The Place
  7. Feature in Your Life
  8. Real Man
  9. Chapter II
  10. You Made Me a Sinner
  11. For the Holidays (bonus track)
  12. Roll the Dice (Gxmble Remix) [Bonus Track]
  13. Roll the Dice (Cypha da Moonchild Remix) [Bonus Track] 

This is my interpretation of “Irreplaceable.”  Here are the six highlights.  

Opening the album with an infectious bass groove and violins reminiscent to old school R&B/Soul is “A Different Affair.”  Lyrically, the song has a message of loving honestly, with the hook singing, “we’re gonna try a different dynamic / We’re gonna try a different affair / We’re gonna try a different dynamic / You’re gonna love me my way.”  The song stays smooth throughout the entire track with a constant beat with only the bridge adding some texture with a music drop-back and a dual vocal.  Nice lyrical metaphors laced within to show the different dynamics the protagonist is willing to incorporate into his relationship to make love work this time around.  This is the modern vinyl cut of the collection.

Irreplaceable,” the title track, is an R&B ballad that just seals the deal when it comes to purchasing this album.  From the Spanish guitars, quiet violins, and heavy bass bottom, this mood-setting track about matchless love just knows which pulse to push when you are listening to it.   “Irreplaceable” follows the typical verse-chorus-bridge form and is structured into three distinct sections with the bridge being the highpoint of the track.  Guerin’s vocal prowess is showcased with him scaling and dipping his vocals to illustrate the track’s emotional scale.  In addition, Guerin keeps a low register throughout to show subtlety.  

At the two-minutes, twenty-four seconds point, Guerin displays a vocal styling that pretty much has gone under the radar in popular music, he repeats his hook and then pleads for understanding in the same manner that Teddy Pendergrass, and other Soul singers, did back in the day.  He completes that section by talking out the lyrics and finishing the song with the music playing to fade – this technique places emphasis on human nature and makes the song approachable, a fan favorite, and memorable.

A shuffle-percussive beat opens the fifth track “Roll the Dice.”  Gritty and kind of shady, this is a commercially ready break-out track that features a Hip-Hop backbeat and some elements of EDM with the full use of the synthesizer and FX.  This song is just hook, after hook, after hook and its raw energy is infectious! 

“Roll the Dice” tells the story of taking a chance on love:  So I’mma take a little chance & roll the dice / I’mma take a little chance & roll the dice / Now that you’ve unblocked me I’ll, risk my pride / I’mma make my move & show you I’m, what you want / You know we ain’t over / So roll them / I rolled them / Now it’s your turn to roll them / We’re two & that’s your number / The universe is calling us.  Vocally, Guerin sounds very reminiscent of early Michael Jackson (circa “Bad”).  Guerin accomplished this Jackson-esque singing dexterity by doing an overlay of tenor octaves, doubled (almost scat-like) adlibs, and multi-vocal hooks.  All these elements accentuate the attitude of the song, thus making this track a Pop seductive piece of music. 

The Place” comes in with powerful strings and a modest piano.  This Dance Pop mid-tempo track tells the story of the modern fairytale coming to life.  With the addition of a rap-swag vocal in the slim hooks, dual harmony notes, and Guerin’s nice flow to the verses, this track floats on air.  “The Place” starts out subtle and builds to a simmering flame with Jazz piano chords and light strings which gives the track animation.  “The Place” is the perfect modern-day slow jam.

Real Man” brings in a nice shift in the album combining more basslines, altered synths, and otherworldly soundscapes leaving huge footprints.  The melody and lead lyric paint a picture of seduction, and the hook frames it with dramatic musical artwork built with synths, piano, cymbals, and snares.  The lyrics tell the story of a man who is not ashamed to take care of his queen which makes him a “real man:”  You’re bizarre / I’m crazy /We’ll be strange together / Trust me we’ll make it work / (Make it work, work, work, make it work) / So when you come, home to me / You won’t find no silly drama / You will find a home cooked meal / Cause when you want to go to sleep / I will service you / Then make sure you get all the rest you need.  This Pop R&B song is quick-tempered, but the addition of the mellow piano in the pre-choruses adds some calm and takes the track to a whole other level of cool.  Moreover, on this track, Guerin tinkered with a quick-paced vocal in the pre-chorus and multi-layered backing vocals taking the song over the top.

A brass section inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” album lays the foundation of the tenth, and final full track, on “Irreplaceable,” it’s called “You Made Me a Sinner.”  The opening words of this track speaks volumes when it comes to illustrating the message of how a lover can turn you from good to bad:  I cleaned my act up / Picked it up a notch / Put myself together / I was the best man / Thought you were the one / You, you, you, you-hoo-hoo / You, you, you, you-hoo-hoo / Made me a sinner; I’ll burn in hell / Every minute was well worth / Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-he-he . . . Every kiss’s a lesson learned / Why you complaining? / You taught me well / I’m just doing what you do / Now I’m a world class cheater . . . I know killer lines / I can teach you / You made me a sinner, girl.  Guerin’s vocals are more expressive on this track and has a nice raspy tenor featuring higher octaves with his tenor in the backing vocals and having such integrity.  “You Made Me a Sinner” is a great Classic Retro-Pop/Funk track with modern rhythmic command.

Additionally pay attention to “Free Time” with its great take on the modern breakup, both "Roll the Dice" remixes, and the bouncy “For the Holiday” that contains a nice Motown-Philly infused Big Band-Pop/R&B modern sound. 

Incorporating some retro-Soul and R&B with modern Pop and Hip-Hop can easily go wrong and sound dated or a horrible mesh of experimentation, but Guerin did it excellently.  

Let me tell you, this man did not hold-back when it came to the best production to reflect and compliment his talent – as the character John Hammond stated in “Jurassic Park,” he “spared no expense.”  And let me say, when the quality of your product is just as professionally tweaked as your talent, that is a sign of an artist that is surely cementing themselves for longevity, because a career in music is just as much as an investment as stocks and bonds are for Wall Street.  Nice to hear the quality! 

Putting his best foot forward without sacrificing the music, Guerin is also positioning himself to be a formidable player and will be one of the most dependable hit makers of our generation.  

And, what separates him from artists today that sample with old school music techniques, melodies, and rhythms and blend those elements to current musical trends (Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Charlie Puth, Justin Timberlake), is that Ian Guerin does not allow for those current trends in music to dictate his ENTIRE trajectory when it comes to his sound.  He makes sure HE does not get lost in the mix of things and keeps his independence. 

His signature sound is turning out to be #MOOD with expressive violins, heavy bass bottoms to give weight to his music, and rhythmic tenor vocal stylings that can be either sentimental or straight-out cold.  Trust me, sooner than later, when you hear a song come on the radio that has this sound, I guarantee you that it will be Ian Guerin.

 

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