Relative newcomer out of Edmonton, Alberta, Rick Christian has released his obligatory pandemic inspired record, entitled, The New Normal. At 7 songs, The New Normal is a bit of a genre bender, with a futuristic vibe that ultimately feels innately modern. Christian is self-described as part musician, part visual artist, who created a video to go with each individual song from The New Normal. From a musical standpoint, Christian has a ways to go as far as production, and in some cases, performance, but overall he shows a remarkable sense of delivery and instrumental subtlety/texture. There is a sterling attention to detail, throughout the record, that indicates an instinctual propensity that isn’t always common amongst burgeoning composers.
On “Wondering,” Christian brings things to a bit of a crawl, albeit a terrifically engaging one. So I tried to reach you/you just wanna complete me. This one has some Radiohead, In Rainbows era vibes, specifically their track, “House Of Cards.” The tempo is absolutely pristine here, stopping just short of sounding processed, and well away from being vapid. This might be one of my favorite tracks on the entire record, as it’s accommodating, and truly captures the sense of limbo we all felt at various points, throughout 2020.
It’s worth noting just how poignantly, Rick Christian captured the alienation of the pandemic era, and more specifically of course, the mandatory lockdown period. There is an immediate aura of loneliness that is almost tangible, from literally the opening of the record. It’s a reminder of a time period that is incredibly recent, and that we still very much live in the shadow of, presently. The New Normal has a sort of post dystopian climate, that unfolds like a recently penned diary of where we are, and how we got here. Few pieces of work that strive to be this timely, are this effective.
“After 8 PM” is one of the more disquieting additions to the record. Christian delivers the vocal in such a way, that almost illustrates the spiritually neutralizing way of life, we were forced to adjust to. His voice lumbers like a tired soul carrying itself to a resting position, only to be all too aware that tomorrow holds little in the way of surprise or adventure. It’s said that a person needs three things to be happy, something to do, someone to love, something to hope for. Let’s hope that most of us had someone to love during this period, as the other two were severely compromised.
Had the budget been a bit higher for this project, Rick Christian could have had his name uttered in Grammy conversations. From a purely artistic standpoint, this album is as significant and meaningful as it gets. It would have been easy to let something like The New Normal, travel in the wrong direction. To his credit, Rick Christian shows a high degree of discipline and reverse prospicience, never deviating from the sobering reality of the pandemic, by adding superfluous commentary. With his effort on The New Normal, Rick Christian has established a new standard of responsible and affable musicianship.