Today’s album has a bit of a personal connection, as Gareth Laffley is the son of one of my parent’s cousins, Susan Oliver. He’s only 15, but you wouldn’t know it from the maturity of these songs, which combine Laffley’s abilities on piano and native american flute in service of some pretty big-budget sounding productions.
Laffley’s singing voice isn’t huge but it fits nicely into the 80’s production style of driving anthems such as opening track “Under A Big Sky”, which injects a Native American flute solo into an otherwise pretty straightforward pop/rock tune.
That flute is more prominent on “Spirit Horse,” an instrumental track that owes a debt to Jethro Tull, Robbie Robertson, and Robert Mirabal, and a good showcase for Laffley’s ability on the flute.
“This Time” goes back to the piano and big guitars, building gradually like a hair band power ballad as it lays out an empowering anti-bullying lyric from Laffley.
Despite the fact that it’s his more recently learned instrument, the flute tracks here are actually the more affecting tunes, with Laffley’s playing both nuanced and spirit-filled on the title track and “Steal The Moon”.
Usually when I hear albums from teenagers not named Taylor Swift, I have to add the caveat that it’s good “for their age”, but in Gareth Laffley’s case it’s not really necessary–in fact, if I hadn’t told you he was too young to drive when he recorded this album, you probably would not have guessed, or cared.