(Making of Americans) Some people never sleep, and some artists never stop creating. Martin Rivas would be one of these people. The man whose music has brought so much joy and inspiration to musicians and listeners alike here in NYC is back with a new five-track EP that shows not only Rivas’s range and diversity in stylings but also his deeply emotional vulnerability in the crafting of his songs.
The Convalescence EP is quite literally a resurrection out of broken-ness — an album written mostly in solitude while Rivas was laid up recovering from an ankle surgery that resulted in severe complications. Rivas told almost no one of the work he was doing and, upon releasing the album just recently, has given listeners a glimpse into some of the darker musings that encompassed his time in recovery.
Rivas’s previous album, Sea of Clouds, is intrinsically hopeful and optimistic. Songs like “Heckuva Day” and “Eclipse” are so full of joy, they leave nothing wanting, especially when performed live. Meanwhile, “Get Yourself Together” and “Hide in Me” pluck the heartstrings and soothe the ears toward gratitude and love. Highly mastered beats blend seamlessly with stripped-down, breathtaking acoustic and a cappella moments. The album is stunning in lyricism and musicality, and shows Rivas’s great love for the music and for life itself.
The Convalescence EP is naturally darker — time to consider things like origin, religion, family, and the harder parts of life itself leading to an album that is relevant to Sea of Clouds in the way it breaks down — much of which he created in his optimism.
The guitar tremblings that open the EP with “Behind their Thumb” feel like the soundtrack for a long winding car ride across generations and times and places. There is a deep sense of history in the mere 30 seconds of strumming and repetition. “The Cage” ponders the stars and the sky and blends beautiful melodies with a hint of slow R&B rhythm. “This Winter Isn’t Ending” is reminiscent of the experimentation in The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album, with an incredible questioning tone to the lyricism. In the final track, “Raise Me Again,” Rivas blends his noted upbeat progressions and instrumentation with a story of adult longing for a reexamined childhood.
All in all, an eclectic but amazingly focused collection — a collection of stories that allows the listener to question their own perspective on a variety of universal concerns and, above all else, an incredible display of varied musicality and instrumental exploration.
Martin Rivas is a musician not to be overlooked. I have seen the way his gift can overtake a room, and I have experienced the beauty of these tracks and albums in my day-to-day to life. The Convalescence EP, if nothing else, is a true testament to the power of any artist to create in and under any circumstance…and in this case, to create something great.
Standout Tracks: "Behind Their Thumb", "Hide in Me"
For Fans Of: Only Son, Adam Green, Jeff Tweedy