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Noise Ratio is the solo project of West Virginian musician Jeff Valput, who composes and plays everything by himself. After experimenting previously with some mostly instrumental recordings, his latest release, Songs on Fire, is the result of some positive encouragement from friends, and encapsulates a moment of an artist tentatively (however boldly) jumping headfirst into the deep end and emerging with an impressive debut effort. It’s a somber and relatively sparse but theatrical affair dominated by predominately piano oriented instrumentals and moody, melancholy vocals. Noise Ratio’s sound is a clear blending of alternative yet commercial acts like Depeche Mode and U2.
It’s undeniable that Songs on Fire is more or less the artist’s debut album, and at times this naivety bleeds through, but it also remains a remarkably well-constructed product that is as catchy as it is dramatically produced. Whether it’s songs stripped bare like “Freed Love” or lushly composed like “Keeping Silent,” a quintessential raw emotional honesty exists at the core of Valput’s lyrics and it’s this vulnerability that is the true asset of this record. It’s possible that Noise Ratio could benefit from some influence from outside sources, but Songs on Fire is a commendable debut with a heart that is solidly original.
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