Pocket Vinyl is a unique group, with husband-and-wife duo Eric Stevenson and Elizabeth Jancewicz as the foundation. The self-proclaimed “piano slam rock” group tours full time, primarily around the New England area, with Stevenson on vocals, guitar and piano and a few rotating members on drums. Jancewicz adds a unique element to the group’s live shows by creating a new piece of art on stage, which is then auctioned off after the performance. Death Anxiety, released in October 2013, is Pocket Vinyl’s third album since 2010.
Stevenson has a smooth voice that carries a sense of insight and adds depth to the songs’ lyrics just with its style. Questioning is a strong theme throughout the album, questioning of self and our own perceptions of life, God and people. The lyrics don’t try too hard to be meaningful and profound, keeping sentiments simple and making them feel more sincere.
Most songs only contain subtle additions outside of piano and drums, so the tracks never seem too cluttered. Stevenson often builds his vocals up to ragged choruses that add more emotion, rather than expressing scream-like angst. It’s great to see another band featuring piano in more than just slow ballads, but the frequent “slam” style leaves you wishing for a more intricate and thoughtful melody at times.
Death Anxiety has 11 tracks, with most running closer to five minutes than three. The songs are each fairly solid; however, the album lacks diversity and it’s not always clear if the track has built up from a break or the next has started. Pocket Vinyl delivers a nice, smooth listening experience, but is probably best appreciated one track at a time.