Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist D.S. Bradford has spent his life building up chops in the music industry. From growing up in a musical household to writing songs with his first band Certain Tragedy, and learning production techniques from multi-platinum producer Jeff Blue, he draws upon a deep pool of influences to craft his own brand of sound.
After releasing his first single in 2014, Bradford returned to the studio to continue building up a track list. Now, he is ready to share his debut EP, Elemental Evolution. It’s a concept album “for all of us,” he says, “…about evolving into a form of ourselves that is conscious of peace and embraces love.”
D.S. Bradford — Track by Track
Bradford personifies this evolution in his music by crafting a listening experience of seven distinct — but unified — tracks.
He introduces the album with “A Call to the Stars: I Ascend the Lost,” a track opening with a flickering sound, like buzzing electricity in an empty warehouse. The industrial noises are immediately contrasted, however by Bradford’s transition to echoing vocals and a classic rock guitar riff.
The album’s evolutionary intent is already clear by the second track, “Rise.” Not only does the 54-second piano interlude sharply turn from the opener, but it also reminds the listener of Bradford’s versatility as a multi-instrumentalist.
“Oceans,” the third track and album’s first single, makes yet another stylistic shift, breaking from the somber piano to feature an opening chord progression that could pass for a Blink 182 intro. Bradford gets even heavier though, as the tempo changes and a Coheed and Cambria-sounding guitar solo hint at more progressive rock style.
The oscillating piano melody of “The Seasons” evokes the imagery of changing autumn leaves. The song’s nature-inspired elements are abandoned, however, when a voiceover of Donald Trump says, “The American dream is dead,” igniting an epic guitar solo and the futuristic feel of a Muse song.
Not one to stay in the same place for long, Bradford quickly turns the clock back on the title track, creating a ’90s rock/pop punk vibe with his high-speed chord strikes. Filled with vocal harmonies and a side of cowbell, this upbeat track finishes with a heavily distorted guitar twang that takes the listener all the way through the next track, “The Move.”
Bradford’s epic masterpiece is the album’s final track, “A Call to the Stars II: A Home in the Sky.” A continuation of the opener, the 7:12 song begins with familiar electrical buzzing, fading into almost religious chants echoing over his guitar plucks.
Synth chords and a drum cymbal rhythm chime in as Bradford sings, “You and I / We’ll have a home in the sky.” Throughout the track, he fools around with a variety of arrangements — accelerated rhythms, different drumming patterns, no drums at all, a series of spliced guitar solos and a handful of tempo changes — always eventually regressing toward the mean.
The track is the album’s encore, showing off everything Bradford can do in one unified piece. He tones down the instrumentals to finish with the lighter sounds of running water, children playing, and soft synth chords, ultimately cutting out like a static-filled TV.
Elemental Evolution is a daring debut but Bradford sticks the landing with confidence, carefully curating every note of every track. You can keep up with what’s next for D.S. Bradford and order the new album on his website.