Eric Tessmer: EP 2 Review

I’m both too old and too married for Tinder, but from what I understand from friends who are single or sketchy, the beauty of Tinder is its immediacy. You see a person’s photo and you swipe based upon a gut feeling. For many, if not most, it’s not an overly intellectualized activity. It’s more a fast reaction to a quick stimuli. The same can be said of an EP. With just a few songs before the artist calls it a day, EPs, like Tinder, often elicit visceral reactions based on a small sample size of data.

Which brings us to Eric Tessmer’s EP 2, a solid effort full of some amazing guitar work. But at six songs, not a dud in the bunch, it’s enjoyable, and even impressive, but you’re also left feeling a little empty. The album is enjoyable, but doesn’t provide a deep connection to Tessmer. It’s just tough to forge a meaningful relationship in just over 30 minutes (although even that number is misleading, as “Love Is Taking Its Toll” clocks in at over 10 minutes).

Tessmer is working on a trilogy of EPs, with EP 2 coming on the heels of 2016’s appropriately-named EP 1. Both are solid albums. EP 2 is less wild, guitar-wise, than EP 1, but in a good way. Tessmer is an incredible guitarist, with lots of solo chops, but more importantly, with a ton of taste. All of his solos are compelling. He’s able to keep the musical momentum going, even when his vocals stop to give way to a solo.

The best example of this is “Good So Bad,” a trippy, mid-tempo rock number. The guitar takes a backseat to a piano that tinkles beneath the song. That is until Tessmer gets to a phase-soaked solo that stops inches short of trippy. He’s somehow playing sitar-esque riffs without a sitar, and the solo just builds and grows, getting stronger and stronger until Tessmer’s vocals return and the song quickly finishes up.

“Simple Solution” is another strong track, with a bluesy guitar tone and a modern rock groove. The song is pushed along by organ, but not in a Deep Purple or Allman Brothers kind of way. Instead, the tempo is much brisker. Tessmer has a strong, if unexceptional, rock voice, making for a catchy, contemporary rock track.

And so the album goes. All six tracks are high quality, and even the long “Love Is Taking Its Toll” pays off the time investment with a huge ending and explosive guitar-drenched ride-out. Tessmer is a more-than-capable band leader. The challenge of this album is really just its length. Listening to EP 1 and EP 2 together, you begin to get more of a feel for Tessmer as an artist, but given the three years between the two EPs, it’s not an especially complete picture. But Tessmer has a vision for his EPs, and hopefully the trilogy will eventually be united into a single work. I’d be curious to hear him re-record all three EPs at the conclusion of the project, just to hear all the songs in the same musical context and from the same musical state-of-mind. But in the meantime, we’re lucky we have another EP of stellar guitar playing to tide us over. It’s not the longterm relationship I might want, but it’s a very nice (if brief) second date.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– The Treatment
– Simple Solution
– Good So Bad

The Big Hit

– Good So Bad

Review by Steven Ovadia

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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