By Pat Gunther
Lafayette native Sean Bruce’s newest EP Staring At Maps Pt. 1 is slated to drop on November 18th, and with that a two night performance on November 7th and 11th in his hometown. Bruce’s Louisiana influence is apparent throughout the record, and by his own declaration on the opening track, “Farewell Winter”, echoes “where my home is where it starts”. However, the EP spanning a little over 27 minutes draws listeners in through a myriad of vivid description that Bruce draws from, well, staring at maps.
Throughout the 5 tracks, Bruce’s country influences manifest themselves vocally while Mumford and Sons instrumentation leading Bruce through the crescendos and decrescendos of the record. Throughout, Bruce tells varying stories conjured up in his head throughout the writing process. Tracks such as “Canyons” detail a cowboy’s journey through the canyons in which he loses and finds his horse again. Though vivid and imaginative, this tactic of storytelling does not really provide the EP with much continuity, as far as the lyrics are concerned. Despite this fact, Bruce’s vignettes of life across the map are interesting nonetheless.
The third track, “Queen of England” is an allegoric love story involving heavy strings over melodic choir chanting, really evoking feelings of what I’m interpreting as an attempt to convey a story in colonial times. With this particular sound, Bruce invokes some Celtic sounding culture into the track, a choice that pops up more than once on this EP. Though one of my least favorite tracks on the album, Bruce undoubtedly brings to the table a unique mesh of musical cultures.
The penultimate track, “Louisiana” shines, as a profession of love to his home state, and for me, is the strongest track on the album. And as the kick drum and twangy guitar strumming progresses, Bruce includes a plethora of vivid lyrics and catchy, fun guitar work that’s dripping with elements of folk guitar. The additions of more diverse instrumentation in the final two tracks flash greatness, and certainly draw me in most effectively.
Lastly, the fifth and final song on Bruce’s EP manifests itself in the form of another short narrative in which Bruce enters an Irish bar and gets drunk with a man who prompts our protagonist to compare Irish and Cajun culture. Despite your preferences, it is certainly something to be reflected on, as Bruce invites the listener to stretch their imagination for another vignette that results in a very positive message. Though at times this record draws me in and is relatively enjoyable, it gets a bit disconnected at times to a fault. Despite all of these things, I admire Bruce’s lyrical dexterity and imagination, but more importantly, his positive outlook on everything across the map.
Favorite Tracks: “Louisiana”
Least Favorite Tracks: “Queen of England”, “Song of Cheer” and “Canyons”