Review: Terry Blade – ‘Misery (Mastered For Headphones)’



When we first met Terry Blade he had recently released his seminal debut single, ‘The Unloveable’, an acoustic demo that was brilliantly built from waves of minimalist RnB instrumentals, acoustic guitar, and soft, melancholic vocals. It was in that darkened space that we lost him, letting the raw and stripped back sound swallow him whole while we waited for his triumphant return.


Easily one of Chicago’s brightest independent artists, Terry had us enraptured with ‘The Unloveable’, and now that his debut EP, the aptly titled ‘Misery (Mastered For Headphones)’ has surfaced, we couldn’t be more excited or more wary. Carrying forward his deeply human and unmistakable human sound, Terry’s new EP builds upon ‘The Unloveable’ perfectly, offering five original tracks that perfectly showcase the various shades and forms of Terry’s life.


Influenced by the likes of Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, Radiohead, Phyllis Hyman, and Sarah Vaughn, ‘Misery (Mastered For Headphones)’ was specifically made for a more personal listening experience, one felt through your headphones and enjoyed in isolation. An unflinching exploration of depression, mental illness, grief, loss, mistrust, and stay or leave ultimatums, the EP perfectly balances heavy themes with light flickering instrumentals and raw, restless production.


Opening with the familiar, calling sounds of ‘The Unloveable’, the EP carves its emotive path with dexterity and ease, opening new realms of discovery for the unwitting listener to fall into. Soaked in reverb and clinging to a timeless soul sound, second track ‘The Mentally Ill’ takes a page from yesteryear, delving into the day-to-day struggles that Terry faces. It’s a deceptively sweet sound that contracts the weight and honesty of the lyrics in wonderful form. Third number, ‘The Widow’ dives into feelings of loss and things left unsaid, offering slow-burning soul epic that few will be able to stand against.


Following song ‘The Broken’ is a delicate acoustic composition that travels more visceral blues sounds, crafting a heartfelt melody that Terry’s vocals shine through. With textured choruses and a subtle folk influence, it’s easily one of his most captivating and accomplished compositions on the release and shoo-in for the next single. Fifth track ‘The Other Side’ follows in perfect fashion, maintaining the emotive, acoustic sound of its predecessor and perfectly portraying the human influence in Terry’s music. One of our favourite pairings in recent years, ‘The Broken’ and ‘The Other Side’ is a magical combination, one that everyone should experience.


As the guitar finally fades and Terry’s vocals break in an unforgettably pure moment, the EP shifts to its final song, ‘Tick Tock (The Lonely)’. A far more atmospheric piece, it’s the releases’ most cinematic, experimental, and expansive release, offering layered vocals tracks, shifting patterns, and an overarching ambient sound, illustrating Terry’s creativity and depth in one final hurrah.


Written, recorded, edited, and mixed with little more than a laptop and Audacity, ‘Misery (Mastered For Headphones)’ is a beautiful illustration of one man’s life and journey so far. The stripped-back production and Terry’s natural ability to portray emotion through his music shines in every song, emphasising the personal nature of the piece with an authenticity that is rarely found in modern music. Unhindered by commercial wants or mainstream nonsense, Terry has made a release that will resonate with lost and damaged souls for years to come.


Terry’s debut EP, ‘Misery (Mastered For Headphones)’, will be available to stream and purchase on the 8th of May this year.


Score: 8.5/10


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