If you’ve ever read a review of mine for a group that features male and female vocals, then you’ve surely seen the love I have for the sound. The dynamic of multiple vocal styles and ranges mixing together has always been something that draws me in. So, to avoid spending too
much time here talking about it, I’ll get a portion of it out of the way now – on Fire At Will,
the debut EP from Bergen County, New Jersey’s Chevonne & the Fuzz, the dual-gendered technique is in full effect and grandly delivered. Okay, onward.
Following a run on The Voice, frontwoman Chevonne focused her efforts on acquiring the other members that would eventually become the group. With a rapidly-changing sound that doesn’t let genre definitions hold it back, paired with an energy and attitude that groups would (should) strive to possess, Fire At Will is an all-star performance on a first-timer’s album.
Opening with “Heels,” an outlaw country/rock & roll, motorcycle bar, whiskey chugging anthem, the group wastes no time flexing their muscles. Chevonne’s range is beautiful directly out of the gate, nonchalantly showcasing her vocals and impressive whistling falsetto (It also makes an appearance later on “Babysitter,” though it gets outshined by this one).
Nipping at the heels of “Heels” is “Burn Out,” which takes the sounds of the previous and flips them on their head – the female voice that led in the introductory track is swapped with the equally smooth Chris Ricci’s, the gritty guitar-work is replaced by upbeat pop, and the chorus slows and soars.
The power ballad “Glow” drops the tempo and introduces a nice addition of background keys, courtesy of Nick Potters. A chorus of backing chants adds a contrasting male layer to Chevonne’s heart-filled spotlighted vocals. Much like with “Glow,” “Ugly Boy” displays the lighter, poppier side of Chevonne’s singing. Both tracks deal with getting over old love and moving onto something new, though taking different thematic approaches. The first is a powerful and ambient, while the latter takes the more playful dancehall route.
If Gwen Stefani adopted Ke$ha and the two toured as a mother-daughter duo, “One More Time” would be the result. As ridiculously “out there” as that description may seem, when you listen, it’ll be pretty difficult to not at least partially hear it.
As entertaining as “Your Guitar” is as a song on its own, as a concluding track, I’m not totally sure that it hits the mark, which was a bit of a letdown, especially at the end of an enjoyable release such as Fire At Will. The first and last, we’ll say, fifteen seconds or so, of the song fit well with the role that the song plays as the EP’s finale – a piano introduction, heavy feedback, guitar solos, etc. The rest, however, could have made a much stronger impact earlier on.
I’m not going to let one minor qualm with the closing song cloud my judgment on the rest of the album, and neither should the listener. As a whole, Fire At Will is unrelentingly fun and hugely ambitious. With all of the styles present here, there is an endless list of artists that we could and should see Chevonne & the Fuzz sharing a stage with in the near future.
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Runtime: +/- 25 Minutes
02. Burn Out
04. One More Time
05. Ugly Boy
07. Your Guitar
Chevonne – Vocals
Chris Ricci – Vocals
Mike Sarkissian – Bass, vocals
Chris Bookstaver – Guitar, vocals
Steve Sarkissian – Drums
Nick Potters – Keyboard, percussion, vocals
Written By: Eric Riley