Albert Stanaj, a 22-year-old singer/songwriter from New York, recently released his first EP, The Preview (LAVA/Republic Records). Stanaj most notably has worked with Drake, which is what put him on the map in 2015. One hears some of Drake’s influence within the EP, however, as a deeper listen shows Stanaj to have a sound of his own. The EP consists of four tracks; “Romantic,” “Sleep Alone,” “Ain’t Love Strange,” and “Goddess.” These four tracks are placed in an order that makes sense musically and lyrically; they flow with ease from one to the next.
Lets start with “Romantic.” The first track is the barest of them all. It’s composed of soft piano undertones and Stanaj’s bellowing voice, which echoes through the song. It’s a smart introduction to the artist, because the voice that he carries is what makes him special. “Romantic” also begins the theme for the whole album, which is about falling so hopelessly in love that it turns you into a different person.
Next is “Sleep Alone.” This track picks up with more energy. The first line of this song is where you get that first taste of the Drake influence. The verses are strong, with words that seem to roll off the tongue and a melody that catches. The chorus falls a bit in comparison to the verses; his strongest asset, which is his voice, is overpowered by the production of the chorus.
I’m hellbent on you seeing yourself the way I see you
(You’re fucking flawless baby)
I’m hellbent on you felling yourself the way I fell, you
(You’re feeling lost baby)
“Ain’t Love Strange” comes next – by far the most popular song on the EP. Stanaj recently performed this song on the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on October 28, 2016. The verses have a subtle piano undertone, like “Romantic,” allowing his voice again to show its strength. He sings the song with urgency, which makes you believe the words he is saying, and the fluctuations he is able to create with his voice gives it a unique edge. Strings then lift you up into the chorus.
Stranger things could happen
How strange would it be
If I told you I believe you were made for me
“Ain’t Love Strange” is brilliantly produced. Powerful and catchy, and with over one million listens on Spotify, it’s the strongest on the EP.
The final track on the album is titled, “Goddess.” The song closes the theme that “Romantic” began with. The songs starts slow; it follows with the bridge, whose memorable chord progression and steady clap build all the way up to the chorus, where Stanaj finally belts out his finest. It truly has that epic feeling to it, as if it could be placed into a movie and really bring a moment to life. “Goddess” is a perfect closer to the EP.
There is still much to learn about this up and coming artist, and as the title of his EP teases (The Preview). With considerable talent in those lungs, this is likely just the beginning for Stanaj.
photo credit: Stanaj © Lava Records