John Runnels – Echoes EP ♥♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)
I finally caught an Aspen Hourglass show at the Downtown Artery last week (I met Grayson Erhard, their lead singer, several months ago and have somehow managed to be already busy elsewhere or too ill to go out every night I could have seen his band since then.) and instead of seeing Lexi Shanley as the opening act, I got to enjoy a set from Denver singer-songwriter John Runnels. John was called up the day of the show when it was determined that Lexi could not make it to the show. John Runnels and Grayson Erhard have been friends for years, and have played music together for quite a while, so John was a natural last-minute choice to fill the opening slot at the Artery show.
While I’m sure the details are still fuzzy and evolving constantly, John is in the process of transitioning from performing as a solo artist under his own name to performing as part of a band he is assembling, called Morning Bear. The Echoes EP, which he was selling copies of at the Artery, is now a limited edition item, as John says he will be no longer printing more copies of this EP once he has his band up and running. Still, since the band is coalescing around John, the songs on his EP are probably a good preview of what he will be creating on a much richer scale with his band.
In person, performing his live set at the Artery, John reminded me very much of Chicago artist Ross Crean (who I have not yet seen live, so he may sound completely different playing live). John’s voice is not as deep as Ross’s, but their approaches to singing and their songwriting make them similar enough that if you like one, you’d probably like the other as well.
In studio, however, John Runnels takes on a somewhat different style, and reminds me a lot more of singer-songwriters like Patrick Dethlefs and Justin Roth, with elements of mainstream pop (Coldplay, the Fray, Radiohead, etc.) mixed in. I could easily imagine his first track on this EP, “Because of You”, as a song on a McDonalds current hits playlist. My favorite track on this EP is probably the second one, “Fade to Blue”, which is also a song that could blend in with certain popular music playlists. I do wonder, though, how some of these songs might be reinterpreted with a full band.
For more information on this artist or to find out where you can catch him live, you can find John Runnels on facebook. He also has a webpage, which appears to be updated very occasionally, at http://johnrunnelsmusic.com/home.htm , but I am not sure even he knows if he will maintain these sites once he has established his new band, Morning Bear. No doubt he will be updating his followers though on his facebook page as his band develops.