Upcoming album: Telegraph (June 10, 2014)
“Oh vigilante, will you protect me?” The term vigilante is being incorporated in popular music – HUH? What is wrong with this picture? Could it be that pop/R&B has a new song by a burgeoning artist that doesn’t merely rely on physical pleasure for its theme of choice? It’s shocking, I know, but it has finally happened – FINALLY. “Vigilante” arrives courtesy of Toronto musician Kai Exos, who is releasing his debut album Telegraph on June 10, 2014. Perhaps the best way to describe “Vigilante” and Exos himself judging from the single itself is C-L-A-S-S-Y. Unfortunately, in a post-love, brutally honest R&B world, too many times classiness and refinement have been thrown by the wayside. For the classical trained pianist-southern Baptist choir influenced musician, he seems like nothing short of a ‘class act’.
So, what exactly is the meaning, significance, and backstory of “Vigilante”? Well from Exos’ own mouth he states “the song stems from my mother’s fervency to guide me through everything that naturally happens to any teenager growing up…” He sums up the aforementioned with incredible prudence: “…Stay childlike and wander just far enough to see the line – but not actually cross over into the wonderment of it all.” Deep stuff for sure; something the game could use.
“Vigilante”, matching the wisdom established by Exos’ quotes, truly shows the up-and-comer in top-notch form. Sporting silky smooth pipes, Kai Exos definitely possesses the instrument to be a star. Sure it takes more than the voice – and often even more than looks – but Exos seems to have something special about him. Keying in on the single, tastefully produced (not too little nor too much), “Vigilante” is something of a modern-soul joint with just enough pop gracing it. Contemporary, yet throwback, the single balances two different sub-styles (retro-soul and modern/contemporary R&B) without adversely compromising either – two different worlds. In this case, “a house divided” seems to be able to “stand”.
“Vigilante” opens with rhythmic, soulful drums, which truly propel the energy and of course incite the head nodding and toe tapping. Soul-oriented guitar delivers rhythmic yet melodic riffs, lush electric piano fills out the harmony (chords), while bass providing a sound foundation. Kai paints atop the palette splendidly, with an air of coolness and swagger. The impression given off to the listener is that while Exos is clearly confident, he sounds down to earth and ‘natural’ as he delivers the lyrics. That said, it helps when the lyrical content contains some substance and value. Touches of horns add additional color, accentuating the overall arrangement and Exos’ lead vocals. Exos also gets support from backing vocals, giving the track as a whole an additional lift.
While “Vigilante” likely won’t be hailed as a reinvention or something boldly and clearly new, it is refreshing, sound, and highly enjoyable. As a promo single, “Vigilante” sets the tone early for what to expect from Telegraph come June. With this incredible first impression, seems to me that the album is going to be truly something special. To Exos, this music journalist says kudos.