Review: Rock ‘n’ Roll Romantic by DownTown Mystic
Rock ‘n’ Roll Romantic by DownTown Mystic.
Hailing from Hillsdale, NJ, Robert Allen, aka DownTown Mystic, has an unapologetic obsession with old school recording. “I grew up listening to all these great records and their sound and style has stayed with me.” The prolific artist has been on the move since his 2010 debut dropping two LPs, two EPs and several singles. With a self-described approach that is “vintage yet modern,” DownTown Mystic is etching out its own space in the music-sphere by managing to create classic rock sounds that have a natural, current day feel. His latest effort, Rock ’n’ Roll Romantic is available now.
Rock ’n’ Roll Romantic kicks things off with “Dead End Space,” a well laid story about a relationship in trouble. Opening with some soulful, rolling guitar playing, this is a true heartland, Americana rock song. The guitar work here is impressive and immediately sets the musical bar high for the rest of the release while lyrics such as “I can’t be the one to save you/And I can’t save you from yourself” add depth. “And You Know Why” takes the tempo down a notch on this quintessential break up song. Once again, the guitars are a standout perfectly complimenting and reinforcing the emotionality of the lyrics before “Turn Around and Go” picks up the pace with a catchy hook and guitar riff.
“Soul’d Out” is a mellow ballad with an overall bluesy feel to it that will take hold of all of your heart strings. Reflective and sad, it is about questioning a lost relationship amidst lyrics like “How could something so right have to turn out so wrong?” Up next is the pure instrumental, “Gongs of Karma.” More of an interlude than a track, it comes in just under a minute long and is an interesting break before moving into one of the best songs on this release, “Brian Jones.” Coming right out of the gate and firing on all cylinders, this track about the founder of The Rolling Stones is an exercise in musicality. The piano, guitars, drums and, in a nod to Jones, the harmonica, are all on fire melding together to create this near perfect track.
The second half of Rock ’n’ Roll Romantic sees the energy continue to fly on another noteworthy song, “Hard Enough.” Fast paced and driving from the opening notes, there is a Springsteen influence on this one and it will surely be a hit with live audiences if DownTown Mystic ever decides to hit the road. “Eyes of the World” will touch your soul with the story of regret and lost love. “Goodnight my lady/I can’t face the fear/Of knowing that I lost that girl/Goodbye my baby/I can’t hide in here/These tears from the eyes of the world.” Memorable melodies and hard hitting drums highlight the uptempo “Think A Little Louder” before the release begins to wind down.
Allen has made his affection for the classics known so it comes as no surprise that he would pay homage to one of the greatest bands of all time with “She Said, She Said,” a cover of a Beatles tune. “Believe in Nothing” gets off to a slow start before an acoustic guitar enters picking up the pace. A heartbreaking song about loss, the storytelling is on point with lyrics such as “I believe in nothing and it’s not so bad/Cause nothing’s gonna save me in the end…I gave my heart/I tried but you could not see.” Rock ’n’ Roll Romantic comes full circle with “Think It Over.” Like the opening track, the energy is high and the guitars are rolling. However, this final song is an ode to optimism and looking forward to the future. After exploring unstable relationships and break ups, this was a great song choice to end with as it says no matter what you endure, there is always hope for tomorrow.
An energetic, mainly uptempo experience designed for the ears of anyone longing for the days when records had two sides and rock ruled all, Rock ’n’ Roll Romantic hits all the right notes both lyrically and musically. With upwards of 15 contributing musicians, you are bound to hear a lot of different influences on Rock ’n’ Roll Romantic including Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles. But from that influence comes an originality and uniqueness of sound that is exclusive to the DownTown Mystic project. Robert Allen and his crew are cutting the line and leading the way in making classic rock new again and they’re doing it with the skills of a veteran and the excitement of a rookie.