Photo by Michael Sparks Keegan
Written by David Collins
Jerad Finck’s upbringing in the Spokane, Washington area proved fortuitous as he was exposed to a particular set of experiences and opportunities for musical education he may not have received elsewhere in the world. Finck’s first love, jazz, morphed into a fascination with popular music and found this young singer/songwriter/performer joining his first rock band in college. Finck naturally displayed an easy aptitude for the form, no doubt aided by his knowledge of more complex forms like jazz and the aesthetic that governs them, and it has quickly propelled him to a place among the most promising newcomers working today. This isn’t his debut, mind you, but every new release from Finck sparkles with the energy of someone announcing their arrival. “New Kids”, his latest single, is no exception.
This is the sort of single that unites opinion rather than dividing it. It is difficult to dislike or find fault with his nearly seamless mix of lightly employed studio atmospherics, evocatively recorded guitar, and well phrased vocals. There’s a pop edge to this song impossible to deny, but there’s credible substance here that goes beyond what we normally hear from performers working in this vein. Finck isn’t trying to have some overnight success, make a little bank, and just plod on uncreatively. Instead, you get the sense listening to this that Finck wants to make important personal statements while still entertaining the widest possible audience. He certainly succeeds here.
It is all built around the songwriting. There is a natural and seemingly effortless progression to “new Kids” that means one section flowing into another without any sense of awkwardness. Finck, likewise, has his voice set perfectly within and against the musical arrangement. His vocal melody lands in all the right places and has a strong sense of purpose without ever overpowering the song. The musical talents working for the success of this song are exemplary. The guitar playing, in particular, strikes a compelling and almost melancholy note without ever overplaying its hand. It is important to mark your mark on a song as a musician, but it is even more important to know when to pull back and how to best embody the song’s subject in musical content. Jerad Finck and the musicians he worked with to help realize “New Kids” have a vivid sense of what to do here and they pull it off with all the aplomb you might expect.
Sometimes the cream still rises to the top. Jerad Finck has the unique combination of skills and intangibles to make his presence felt on the contemporary music scene for many years to come and his songwriting powers only continue to grow. He is aided, as well, by a top flight collaborators who work in nearly perfectly sympathy with his talents. “New Kids” is, simply, one of 2017’s best singles and bodes well for Finck’s future work.