A multi-instrumentalist armed with an entrancing, soul-scraping set of vocals, Conner Youngblood navigates all the vaporous realms of alt-R&B and soul with a hefty emotionality. Celebrating the release of his sophomore attempt Cheyenne this past summer, Conner Youngblood operates between the elegant cracks of atmospheric buzz and droning instrumentals that dot his songs. Amidst the whirl of brass, flutes, harps, and other breaths of eerie sound, Youngblood offers up the warm vibrations of his vocal cords as part of the airy melodies found on Cheyenne. His voice just another instrument in the symphony he dictates, the album presents itself as a collection of short excursions into Youngblood’s own sound-riddled mind. Each song feels like a brief painting of obscured emotion, never minimalist, but rather delightfully purposeful and expedient.
Careful ballads interspersed with all manner of twinkling piano keys and brass ringing abound, from the aching movements of “Lemonade,” to the folkys-twang of “My Brother’s Brother.” Each crafted from Youngblood’s extensive travels and each a foggy window of glowing emotion bottled from singular moments in his life. “Stockholm,” a more exuberant piece that elongates itself around his various intonations of the titular word and the dazzling gleam of harp strings, is a particularly beguiling exercise in the artist’s melting of his own vocals into those various sounds. Atmospheric with no small human touch, there’s something invariably affecting about Cheyenne that borders on something spiritual–or at least ethereally introspective. His hums on “12 lbs” are reminiscent of a choir and their large echoes are more so, while “The Birds of Finland” pushes itself into some faraway country-side with every trotting tumble of percussion and soaring croon.
It might be difficult to place one’s finger on, but something ineffably special is happening on Cheyenne. Distilled from the experiences of one person, such a thing is most likely impossible to fully understand–but that was never the intention. Conner Youngblood has successfully translated that elusive beauty of personal experience into sound, and that alone in all the multiplicity of its perspectives by those who listen to it is enough.
Listen to Conner Youngblood’s song “Cheyenne” below!