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Album review: 'Deference' 

Aaron Rizzo



[UPDATED AND REVISED 7/23/19] Rochester-born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Rizzo is doing things differently on his  sophomore album, "Deference." Having played guitar since age nine, Rizzo performed in various rock bands throughout his teenage years before pursuing his own solo project. He later released his debut album, "Blck Tee Shrt," in 2017. Recorded and engineered by Todd Carder at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, NY, "Deference" was fully realized with the help of drummer Nate Smith, bassist Tristen Jarvis, synthesizer Oliver Scott, and percussionist Dan Monte.

Rizzo's plan is to release two singles at a time, and after four installments, to release the full album. "Gone Mad" and "To Witness a Death" are the two singles from the first installment of "Deference," both demonstrating a maturation in Rizzo's musical style. Featuring high-reverb and dense production, the songs break free from Rizzo's typical John Mayer-esque, blues-rock vibe, transforming into an ethereal mix of indie pop, alternative rock, and R&B.

Rizzo still uses guitar in a textural way on "Gone Mad," with the music focused more on harmony rather than his previous rhythmically-based tunes. His talent on the piano shines out on "To Witness a Death," a mournful yet tranquil lullaby. Somber yet brilliant, Rizzo reaches out a helping hand in his simple yet intentional vocal melodies, all sung with a gentle whisper and heart-wrenching, palpable energy. Overall, "Deference" reflects an evolution in Aaron Rizzo's songwriting and personal style.

An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that "To Witness a  Death" is about coping with suicide. According to Rizzo, the song was written for a friend whose mother had died of cancer.

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