Young pop stars are a very diverse breed.
There are those who start young, who find their footing, who build and change and grow throughout the years. There are those who start off strong and fizzle away. There are those who become superstars, later trying to shed their bubblegum image for a more mature look, typically just turning into jerks (here’s looking at you, Justin).
Now, while I can’t speak for the “building and changing and growing” parts of that first example, I have a good feeling that 17-year-old Dylan Gardner will safely fall into that first category. On his self-written/performed/produced debut album, Gardner boasts a level of talent that reaches much further than the high school halls he roams.
Though I’m a little behind with getting this review done, I think that that was a happy accident. With the upbeat tempos and hooky choruses, I feel this album had a better impact on me at the start of July than it would have in mid-May.
Opening on the quick, sharp-witted “Let’s Get Started,” Gardner instantly digs in. Catchy and lyrically contradictory, it would stick in your head for days, if there weren’t nine tracks following it waiting to do the same.
There are a handful of highlights here, with “Too Afraid to Love You,” “Sing for the Stars,” and “Invincible” coming to mind, each one special in their own respects. But, if there is specific focus to be given anywhere, special attention deserves to be placed on the dark, acoustic performance given on “The Actor.” Unlike any of the other tracks in regards to its softness and serenity, Gardner’s songwriting and vocal range are at their bests here. The steady growth from a soft acoustic strum into a grand effort of stifled sounds and swirling violins is not only impressive but shows (for me, at least) what Gardner could grow into as an artist.
On Adventures in Real Time, Gardner does something special. His music feels established and refined, holding the ability to stand on its own without being eclipsed by his age. Though, bringing his youth into the conversation makes it all that much more notable. While it isn’t perfect, it leaves the door open for improvements and diversity, which is something that an artist of any age or medium will gladly take notice of.
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Runtime: ≈ 36 minutes
Star: “The Actor”
1. Let’s Get Started
2. Heroes Tonight
3. I’m Nothing Without You
4. Too Afraid To Love You
5. I Think I’m Falling For Something
6. The Actor
7. Sing For The Stars
8. Feeling Of Love
9. With A Kiss
Written by Eric Riley