“Spines of the Heart” is a twenty-three track, double CD from Bryan Deister. A student at The Berklee College of Music, he is a classically trained musician. His origins are in jazz but he believes in never being defined by one genre.

The album is very diverse. Each track is different from the rest both in tone and tempo. Progressive in style and brooding in delivery, it is an album of introspection and emotion. A dark melancholy hangs over this entire album like the rainy November night.

Bryan is influenced by Kurt Cobain and Radiohead, just to name a few. With a list like that, I was looking for an edge to the album. What I found seemed forced. Bryan has talent but it lacks the identifiability of such groundbreaking artists.

The beautiful thing for me was his work as a pianist. He plays the keys well. When he stays within his vocal limits, he is capable of producing beauty. I don’t doubt his ability for composition nor his musicianship. Sometimes he pushes too far and notes seemed strained. When he slows down and plays to his strength, I could feel it.

At times, I feel taken back to some old Gothic eighties feel like Sisters of Mercy but then it falls flat. The darkness seems staged as if he is trying to redefine himself to others.

The track “Approaching” is the one that I enjoyed most. As a writer, he will push the words and bend the meaning, yet convey his message. This track he does that well. It is a beautiful example of what Bryan can do. The piano is beautiful and the tone is melodic and not so overwhelming as other tracks. This is in juxtaposition to the song “Gone.” The lyrics speak in double meaning but the concept and it’s attempts fall flat.

On the track “Seven Eight” there is a drastic change in style. It is like a demented carnival of noise. This is something someone writes if they want to sound like Tom Waits but never spent a night with a hooker. It is the Mormon version of a drug binge. I have to admit, I want to buy the guy a drink and tell him slap a girl on the ass.

“Spines of the Heart” is a dark exploration. For Bryan maybe it is. But its dark the way an Amish kid gets spending a week in the city and only going to Target. It lacks something. It’s daunted but rehearsed. Its black but too light. Bryan has talent. Bryan, like a young Kris Kristofferson was once told, needs a little more life experience. Or perhaps a night he would regret. It would serve his music well.


Extended Plays is an ongoing music series written by myself and my partner Lizzy. We listen to music, go with our gut and spill our honest and sometimes brutal opinion all over this blog. We hope you take the time to check out the artists we review for yourselves. We tend to believe that we are always right about everything but the most beautiful thing about music is that our opinion doesn’t matter to anyone but ourselves.



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