If you’ve been paying attention, you knew I was looking forward to this release. Stanaj just dropped his EP, From a Distance, which follows his previous EP, The Preview. I mentioned briefly that The Preview wasn’t necessarily a standout from 2016, but that his voice alone is reason enough to tune in and press play.
With the release of From a Distance, it sounds like Stanaj is still playing with sounds and finding his niche. This collection of tracks is fairly different from his previous. The production and melodies are much more pop-driven. From his previous EP, The Preview, you can easily hear the difference on “Ain’t Love Strange,” which was actually pretty great. What do I think of this California lane change in genres? Keep reading.
“Changed” is an awesome track; the monotone, staccato chanting in the pre-chorus is super infectious. “Changed” might be the only track from the EP with radio power, which is unfortunate. I’m not sure if he or his team are so eager to release music that things are falling through the cracks, but I have to say I’m slightly disappointed. “Meant to Be” is incredibly well sung — any song by Stanaj always is — but it’s not the greatest ballad, imo; the chord progressions aren’t exciting and the way the melody builds feels like painting by numbers. I.e it feels dated. “Bad Woman” is alright, and I can appreciate the attempt at an uptempo r&b track, and as I listen to it more it’s building on me. The melody is interesting enough and I can appreciate some of the intricacies in the production.
“Find me" is the star of the show, for me. It won’t be played on radio stations, I imagine, but it has everything that “Meant to Be” lacks: flawless vocal ad libs, organic dynamics, emotion and an exciting melody. I live for Stanaj’s runs and this song provides them in abundance. Also in attendance, the raspiness that only occurs at the top of his range is always a welcome addition.
As an aside, I can’t exclaim enough how talented this guy is. This is only the beginning of his career and, while I may be critical, I see great things ahead. His vocal chops are simply undeniable and I look forward to another release — hopefully a full-length debut. I would love to see him more in the same lane as Miguel and less his current John Legend, if that makes sense.