Earlier this summer, Saint Savage, (Connor Schon '16 and company), released their second album, Stranger. Collaborating with life-long friend, Kitch Wakeman, and Wes alum, Ethan Currie '15, Stranger was the result of Connor’s senior project. Confronted with the logistical challenge of the group living in entirely different parts of the country, the majority of the album was recorded during Connor’s Spring Break trips to Wisconsin and Texas in a collection of unusual places—Ethan’s cathedral-style rental house, cars, and couches.
Thoughtful and contemplative, the recent release reaches a new lyrical and musical depth when compared to the band’s Fall 2015 release, Fair-Weather Friend. It’s rougher than FWF—but it’s a welcome change, a testament to the hard work that went into the album and the complicated emotional transitions that accompany graduation.
Tackling the dual role of producer/engineer, Connor says the sound, arrangement, and production decisions of the album were inspired by binge listening to Cat Stevens and Jethro Tull. His favorite part of the project was taking on the challenge of recording on the go: “It doesn't always work out, but again, the home studio approach means that you're on your own clock and you can mess around as much as you want. It also keeps the experience fun and lends a certain energy to the performance—and hopefully that energy translates to the listener.”
With every track of Stranger, you can feel the energetic freedom Connor describes.
Harkening to spontaneous late night drives, Connor’s voice sounds unconfined yet well controlled. Kitch’s vocals add a complexity to the album that at times compliments Connor’s voice and at other moments, challenges it. Firmly balanced guitar riffs and bass lines contribute to the seemingly effortless ease of Stranger. Unexpected undertones of mandolin and violin run through the album, reflecting the oftentimes overlooked aspect of sincerity that can accompany desire. The numerous layers of vocals and instrumentals transform Stranger into an album full of texture—with each listen, I picked up on something new.
Looking forward, Saint Savage plans on releasing either an EP or a single sometime before the end of the year. In the meantime, Connor will spend his time recording sound and writing music for a short film.
For more on Saint Savage, check out this interview with Connor and review of the band's first release, Fair-Weather Friend.
~Kelsey Gordon '18