Artist: My Encore
Review by Jessi Roti – @JessiTaylorRO
EP: Leaving HoME: Prologue
For his My Encore project, singer-songwriter Rhett Hamilton tries with every fiber of his being to make something out of the pop-rock mold he holds so dear. As a result, My Encore's debut EP, Leaving HoME: Prologue, can sound a bit like a mix of the music Hamilton listened to growing up. But while My Encore has yet to settle on a style, Hamilton has the songwriting chops to entertain us when they do.
The lead tracks open with rap or spoken word, a type of journal-entry desire for something better. Gang vocals tell the tale of growing up, getting out, making something of yourself – but not without friends by your side. Bands like New Found Glory have pioneered this narrative for over a decade to varying degrees of success, and while Hamilton’s vulnerability and desire are just as endearing as theirs, as a narrative it falls short of really standing on its own. It just doesn't separate itself enough from the Dashboard Confessionals of the new millennium.
As heard on “Towers” and “Angel (feat. Jonny Craig),” Hamilton can flat-out play the guitar. The speedy introduction of “Towers” has a Dave Matthews jam-band agility that is definitely attention-grabbing. And though Hamilton's musicianship occasionally carries a song, the EP can get stuck in its own sweetness. The songwriting is all too often one-note – lemonade with too much sugar, sweet without the bite.
There's one attempt at breaking up the sweetness. “Never Let ME Go” ends in a trap mix that lyrically includes something like, “Fuck me like I'm the only way you're getting out.” This is where Hamilton’s ambition gets the best of him, where he’ll eventually have to decide if he wants to be an R&B-pop artist or stick with his gang-vocals and guitars. Because the overly jarring moment stands in stark contrast to the sweet optimism pervading Leaving HoME: Prologue.
Given the dichotomy of styles heard on Leaving HoME: Prologue, it's clear that Hamilton surveyed the musical landscape before entering the studio. In doing so, he became quite the musician himself. But Hamilton has yet to look in the mirror, and decide it's time to be his own idol.