Joe Whyte

CD Review: Four and No More

The Joe Whyte Squad's latest EP "Four and No More" contains simple songs with a rough edge. Whyte has a talent for giving a song a subtle twist, without turning away from its main musical or lyrical theme.

Whyte prefers a more reality-based lyrical approach when covering the topic of love. "I'm not one to write a happy love song," said Whyte. "It's not like the songs are about gloom and doom either."

The CD's four cuts are "Breath," "Breaking Your Code," "Town," and "On and On."

"Breaking Your Code," which took about 15 minutes to write, has the melodic appeal of any recent radio hit. "Last summer I was playing and it just came out," said Whyte. Audiences have been quick to express their satisfaction of the tune. "They just go nuts for it," he said.

Whyte's squad is a tight one that has obviously honed their chops. "Town" contains a bass line as catchy as its melody. Its drumbeat drives, but stays at right speed limit. The guitar leads are filled with song-complementing arpeggios and volume swells reminiscent of Tom Petty's axe-slinger Mike Campbell.

The band has a spontaneous approach to songwriting. Whyte writes by messing around with his guitar and humming along until his different ideas become a song. "It sort of just happens," he said. "It's not like I sit down and say, 'hey, I'll write a song.'" Some of his songs have written themselves in five or ten minutes, while others don't come so easy. "Sometimes I'll agonize over finding the right phrase for two months," he said.

The next step is bringing his band mates an acoustic guitar/vocal version of the song. Whyte said the songs usually become better after his band gets a hold of them. "Without them, the songs wouldn't be what they are," he said. Whyte's vocals start from the mid-range and he strategically uses vocal vibrato to add more life and punch to his songs.

Many of his lyrics are like conversations with an ex-girlfriend: "Dizzy from just one day / Every word just giving off more radiation / A breathing holiday / I'm always saying I could use a small vacation" (from "Breaking Your Code"). Whyte has a knack for absorbing the world around him and presenting it as a mural of words and music.

"Four and No More" can be purchased through the band's website, joewhyte.com, and cdbaby.com.

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