Idalee’s debut EP “Starting Now”
Idalee’s debut EP “Starting Now” was released on January 21, 2016. You can almost touch the intense feelings behind Idalee’s work – his music is a new beginning, a ticket to the future, a second chance. Although it’s quite cheerful and catchy, “Starting Now” is a truly lyrical album with meaningful ideas and thoughts. The genre can be described as melodic alternative pop rock, as the music has a lot of beautiful twists, although nothing really unexpected. Idalee has a large list of influences – for example, 90’s alternative rock bands like Weezer, Nirvana, Cage the Elephant and Beck, as well as Tom Waitts, Ben Folds and some more recent artists like Skrillex, Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons. However, “Starting Now” sounds a lot like the rock band Matchbox Twenty – so if you’re their fan, make sure to check Idalee out!
There are a couple of absolute gems in “Starting Now”. “Fury” is one of the highlights of the album – it conveys the great message that you shouldn’t blindly follow the masses, when in your heart you know they’re wrong. Another great song is “Barbarian” – an aggressive tune with a punk sound that focuses on the fight between the television ideals and real life. Still, probably the greatest song on the album is “Starting Now” – it’s an optimistic leap into the future, without second thoughts and looking back.
This album was produced by the experienced Los Angeles –based indie producer Ethan Kaufmann, who has worked with artists like Avril Lavigne, Ryan Cabrera and Wild Party. Will Briere (associated with numerous artists like Shakira, Imagine Dragons and Chris Isaak) also worked on the album as a mix engineer. The work of these professionals can clearly be heard, as the sound quality is simply amazing.
The story behind this album is really interesting – Idalee, also known as Topher Hall, was almost incarcerated after crashing into a government car while he was on cocain, as well as drunk. Since he only hurt himself in the accident, he managed to avoid prison, but the event changed him. Topher started working with the prison population, fighting to give them the second chance that he got. One of the highlights of “Starting Now” – the beautiful ballad “Heal” was written after Idalee visited the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Michigan. This particular song is even offered for free in exchange for subscribing to a newsletter with information about advocacy and restorative justice. Idalee managed to gain access to a Texas prison, where the video for “Heal” was recorded, as he and a band of incarcerated musicians performed for the inmates. This project turned out to be much more than a simple music video and more of a documentary about the inner life of the prisoners. Prison Fellowship, the biggest outreach for inmates and their loved ones, helped Idalee with the creation the video.
Idalee is based in a small town near Phoenix, where he works hard on making more music and fighting for everyone’s right of a second chance in life.