The last couple of years have been particularly epic for indie singer/songwriters, and in 2019, Daniel Tortoledo delivered what could be one of the best debuts I’ve personally come across in the genre in quite a long time. Titled Through out These Years, the deceptively simple nine-track LP wanders through a litany of subjects only to bring us back to the same theme time and time again; self-exploration. Tortoledo searches for himself but ends up finding a sound that is truly his and his alone in Through out These Years, and listeners like you and I reap the rewards of his efforts.
“Eloise,” “Not Too Late” and “Bottle of Wine” see the instrumentation doing as much of the poetic heavy lifting as the lyrics – if not a touch more – and for me, they embody the duality of Tortoledo’s songwriting style better than any other songs here. There’s a multidimensionality to his talent that immediately sets his melodies apart from the rest, but beyond the sway of the drums or the strum of the guitars, his statements tend to reflect the tone of the music as well as they do his emotional presence in any composition on the record.
I really like the moderate polish on the music video for “Dark Times (Brothers and Sisters),” and though the track is one of my personal favorites from Through out These Years, it gets an additional aesthetical boost through the video that puts it over the top. The imagery emphasizes the realism influence in Daniel Tortoledo’s sound, but the music itself remains the chief point of interest even in the midst of the visual climax. Some might accuse him of overthinking a relatively simple concept, but I think this artist’s attention to detail is what makes him a winner among his peers.
Despite the commonalities with old school folk-rock in the songs “Give Me Soul,” “Bottle of Wine,” “You Can’t Have It All” and “Spare Time,” there’s nothing in Through out These Years that I would qualify as being a literal throwback. Tortoledo is too personal with his words, and more specifically, with the means in which he sews them into the fabric of the melodies, for this to be the case. Anything retro about this record is merely an instance of the artist wearing his influences on his sleeve, which is important to note when taking into account just how many of his contemporaries are recycling in the recording studio these days.
If this is just a sample of what Daniel Tortoledo is bringing to the table as a solo singer/songwriter, I think he’s going to find himself quite welcome in American indie circles that have been missing someone of his caliber in the genre for far too long now. Through out These Years is a terrific meet and greet captured across nine nuanced examples of folk-rock surrealism, and while it’s not the only alternative LP worth checking out this August, it’s absolutely become one of my go-to listens for left of the dial Americana.