Philadelphia based musician Donovan Rice is fast gaining highly respectful acclaim and a strongly growing following for his stylish blend of indie rock/folk incorporated into the firm setting of singer songwriter. His skilful and creative use of melodies wrapped in a senses touching caress has gained him a definite place and recognition in the Philadelphia music scene as well as in areas surrounding his home state Ohio. Now with the recent release of his debut album The Space Race with his band the Standing Cinema, a rapidly favourable response and greater awareness should emerge further afield in the US and around the world.
The Space Race is made up of eleven engaging and enthralling tracks that ooze with intelligently written and realised music and obvious influences that though strong never over power the originality of the songs. Rice’s informative years were in a household of music with his parents both musicians and instruments readily available. He grew up with the likes of the Beatles and the Beach Boys in his ears and thoughts, working through the repertoire of artists in strict order, Abbey Road heard only after Revolver had been devoured for example. This background of musicianship at home and in ‘study’ helped Rice develop his songwriting skills and the ability to bring them to fruition, The Space Race being the result, its tracks vibrant with flavours and studies of the icons he ‘lived with’ fused into a modern layered structure and feel.
The album follows on from previous EP’s Single File and Sink The Ship released in 2009 and 2010 respectively, the seven month or so creation confidently bringing a warm and inviting collection of songs to light up the ear. Alongside Rice who handles vocals, guitars, and keys, the Standing Cinema also consists of on the album, Billy Rose (drums and guitar) and Jeff Wuollet (bass, guitar, keys, drums, and backing vocals), together the trio have an instinctive and natural feel that reflects in the songs. From the moment opening track ‘The Space Race’ lifts off the feeling of something special permeates the air not only in the song itself but for those to follow. The song bounces with a fresh vibrancy that reminds of moments from bands like ELO, a lightness of touch and melody that swoops up the listener in its enticing charms. Right away the song challenges for the best track of the release but soon it is rivalled and edged by the tremendous ‘Stones In The Boat’. A stunning song with a personal element that gives it a depth that is inviting and captivating, the track shows the strength of Rice’s songwriting perfectly. Its folk vibe alongside the melodic indie pop flow works a treat as his voice touches emotions and the heart, the song a soundtrack to every perfect love.
As the album progresses and tracks come and go mesmerising the senses the varied spices of influences and musical styles are obvious and perfectly added. The McCartney feel of single ‘Here In Ohio’, the edgy stroll of ‘Let The Embassy Know’ which at times inspired thoughts of Green Day, and ‘Steady Machine’ another single off the release that recalls wonderfully the elements of the craft of Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford that made Squeeze unequalled so often, are all fine examples of the parade of immense influences that are distinctively used by Rice.
The use of stringed instruments and intelligent creative techniques and ideas makes The Space Race an album that shines like a beacon in a pretty dull genre right now. The measured and fascinating melodies, some insanely catchy hooks, plus the heartfelt lyrics and their emotive delivery all add up to one impressive and beguiling release and gives firm evidence that Donovan Rice and the Standing Cinema will soon soundtrack many lives as their fan base explodes.