Christian Bitto, singer of the September Call-Up, is a lot like Leonardo da Vinci. How, you might ask? Quite simply, Bitto is a Renaissance Man of vocals, a jack-of-all-moods, you might say. From first track to last on his album with drummer Jesse Gimbel, Air And My Sleep, Bitto switches constantly and effortlessly from a soft, near whisper to a powerful shout, before retreating back into a passionate warble. Such a truly textural range is the focal point of this otherwise very calm, smooth indie record.
Its first track, “Negative Film”, is exemplary of the EP’s depth. As Bitto utters, “Gave you my word, it wasn’t worth a spit. Gave you a kiss, it tasted like shit,” the song has a very Ryan Adams, alt-country feel to it. Before you can even process that comparison, though, Bitto becomes a 2013 version of Michael Stipe, his voice loud and all-consuming through the chorus.
“Our First Fall” is a song everyone needs at some point in his or her life, for a lonely, heartbroken kind of night. Bitto’s cloud-soft voice paired with very angry, tearful lyrics sweeps you into a storm of emotions you can relate to. “Song No. 3” is probably our favorite on the EP, and is equally heart wrenching. Comparing Bitto’s vocals to that of Conor Oberst is inevitable, and only makes the track tug at your chest more.
Toward the end of the album, a sense of nostalgia begins to emerge, especially on “Burnt Orange”, a very pretty track about love come and gone. “Ghost” is a surprisingly upbeat tune instrumentally, raising the tempo of the album before a pleasant crash into Air’s final track, “9”. The September Call-Up couldn’t have chosen a more perfect track to conclude their album – it’s sensitive, dreamy, and thought provoking. And after listening to the record, you see that the duo’s intention, all along, was to get listeners thinking. Job well done.
Air And My Sleep is due out June 25 through Wissahickon Records.