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Album Review: Bay Uno, ‘Catalina’

Bay Uno
Bay Uno

A somber horn section and lovelorn lyrics set the stage for an extraordinary musical journey on Bay Uno‘s debut full-length, Catalina; Wait for Your Love” is representative of the Brooklyn-based artist’s craft, one that is focused on emotive words stemming from an urbane narrator.

Building on the poetry of the record’s opening track, Catalina twists and turns for 10 more tunes, touring around different bodies of water; Uno admits he is “obsessed” with them — “I will swim at any chance.” In fact, when the album was first announced, he said, “I will try to talk you into swimming with me, and you will say, ‘No way, it’s freezing.’ Then I will do anything it takes to get you to follow me into the water.”

His determination doesn’t end with taking a dip near whatever liquid-filled pool he’s near. In fact, it’s that resolution that seems to allow Uno to create music that harkens aural images of Bright Eyes, Blake Mills, Ben Gibbard, Band of Horses and Bob Dylan while firmly building his own sound, rich with impossibly beautiful melodies.

Over the last several years, Uno wrote the songs that comprise Catalina in his bedroom, keeping them close to his chest, only sharing them with dear friends. One of those friends, Earl Greyhound‘s Matt Whyte, joined forces with Uno to record the songs in his home studio.

“Black Beauty” grows from a delicate tale into an intoxicating ballad; “Don’t Come Around Here” employs a subtle electronic beat to further the song’s dynamics; the title track finds Uno crying for his hometown, “Catalina, Catalina,” over a beautiful waltz; “Golden,” the album’s standout track, features the songwriter behind the mic with just his guitar, bearing his soul for all to hear.

With his debut, Uno has set the bar staggeringly high for anything to follow; the odyssey he takes listeners on is noteworthy for its gorgeous ambition, steering clear of anything else that is currently on the market. We can only hope the path he’s on now leads to something as arresting as Catalina.

ALBUM REVIEW: SUFJAN STEVENS, ‘CARRIE & LOWELL’

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