I really enjoy how Jupiter in Velvet begins his latest release Anthems2Love. “A Cooler Shade of Mad” leads with a bit of musical sleight of hand. The track positions itself as a near-folksy track with clean electric guitars before Velvet pulls the rug out from under listeners and instead ratchets things up into a song embodying his electro dance rock aesthetic. His capacity for surprise is very real. When you hear the word “anthem” used in conjunction with modern popular music, you expect big and bold musical numbers with little subtlety and singalong moments for the crowd. Jupiter in Velvet has a real talent for creating indelible choruses, but he never puts these moments into play for listeners with the same ham-fisted characteristics we hear from lesser talents.

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There’s a muted quality to “If Not Peace… (Then It’s War)”, but it has a folk anthem sort of vibe, albeit in an electric setting. Velvet’s guitar playing is, for me, reminiscent of iconic players like Robin Trower, Hendrix, or Spirit’s Randy California – uniquely vocal and bluesy without ever immersing itself in tired clichés offered up by a cornucopia of guitarists. The forceful sound of the track pulls no punches, especially the drumming. There’s an authoritative push provided by the percussion that gets in listeners face from the first and sets a memorable tone for the track but, despite this, there’s never a feeling of the rhythm section overwhelming the performance.

“Stand Up” is another track with firm leanings towards the anthemic style. It has, in my opinion, the most effective chorus on the release and there’s some of his best lead guitar unleashed during its four and a half minutes plus running time. It has acoustic instrumentation we haven’t heard until now and the playing in that vein gives the recording a low fi jangle lacking in the other tunes. Artful use of atmospherics is a key to the success of “The Greatest Gift”, but space is another important component. This is a song that, from the outset, is given ample room to breathe and kudos are due to Jupiter for never feel the need to clutter with a lot of useless sonic tinsel.

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“Forever & A Day” takes the release back in an energetic direction and it’s slightly amazing how much added spark Velvet’s song gains from a simple doubled guitar riff recurring throughout the track. There’s an inexorable pull to this track despite its mid-tempo pace; it might get lost in the shuffle of earlier songs or the release’s conclusion and, if so, that’s a small injustice because it’s one of the more interesting cuts included on Anthems2Love. The song “We Are All ONE” maintains the same anthemic spirit present throughout the entire release and the same under the radar approach to the style defining earlier songs. It has a much more wistful and Beatlesque flair than the preceding tune’s rock leanings and ending the release in such a way is final evidence for his aforementioned capacity to surprise listeners. This is a rich and rewarding outing for a talented performer.

Nicole Killian

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