Gentleman Reg (Rey Vermue) has been making sweet sounds in his native Canada for this whole decade (or century, or millennium…), but only since his recent signing to Toronto’s famed Arts & Crafts has his music found its way stateside, in last year’s compilation Little Buildings EP (QRO review). But that was just an intro to prick up U.S. ears for Reg’s first full North American release, Jet Black. And the Gentleman does not disappoint, even stretching himself a bit.
Vermue’s voice has always been his calling card, alto-high, but also soft and breathy, employable both for sad, stripped numbers and more upbeat sun, and the two sides come out on Black. Opener “Coastline” is sunny and a little beachy-peachy as it shows off his throat, while single “You Can’t Get It Back” employs a catchy alt-country/garage guitar. Meanwhile, in between falls the sad & sweet “To Some It Comes Easy”. “Easy” is also one of a number of tracks with particularly strong choruses, along with the alt-country pick-up, “Falling Back”.
A few of the sadder songs are a little forgettable, especially as their put amidst Vermue’s interesting, but not altogether complete, venture into a sort of nighttime disco-dark beat. While “How We Exit” presses well with its horns, more downbeat evening out material like “We’re In a Thunderstorm” and “Everlong” aren’t what Vermue does best, and they clash with stripped alt-folk such as “When Heroes Change Professions” and “Oh My God” – though the pure beauty of “Rewind” stands out.
Jet Black finishes with “Rudy” – a little garage, a little swing, and a whole lotta Reg. Between his voice and ability to do both upbeat and downbeat so well, Vermue didn’t really need the extra nighttime forays. But it’s another solid record from an artist who’s hopefully starting to get more of his due.
MP3 Stream: "Rudy"