Vince Grant has got the blues -- not the genre; he really has the blues. His new indie pop/rock EP starts with "Melancholia" and from there the next four tracks marinate in a bleak, cheerless, heavyhearted thirty-minute moody sonic sadness. Hippocrates said that melancholia steamed from an imbalance of the humors. And today mental illness is treated with a lot of medication: some useful, some causing problems rather than solving, still others restricted through law and social norms. But Vince seems to be using these tracks as a means of getting something out of his system to find his true, poetic self. And in doing so, he serves to help himself and others find themselves considering that depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States.
One can sometimes witness the disorder on the faces of people walking down the street or perhaps looking into the mirror. Certainly, we have all received a call at a given time and heard the despair of a loved one over the phone. One out of 10 persons report symptoms of depression at some given time, which leaves them distressed and impaired. Consider this quote from Hamlet:
"I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises [...] the earth seems to me a sterile promontory [....]"
Vince Grant takes his illness outside of his mind and body and portrays it as an organism who he dances with, who he loves, but who batters his spirit. Leaving, but always returning, track one "Melancholia" begins to set the tone. The instrumentals mirror the ebb and flow of the clinical depression that Vince captures in his lyricism. Words that speak directly to episodes of morbidity are expressed through Vince's thick, emotive voice. It's no wonder that he decided to name this EP This Depression Is Always Trying To Kill Me.
The next track "Oceans II" is an illustration of the struggle of reaching that place where there is a symphony of twilight; the "almost there" place where mental health prevails. But, before we go shaking the crazy out of everyone, let's not forget that great artistic endeavors were created by people living with mental disorders. What would the world be like without the smell of alcohol emanating from the pages of Ernest Hemmingway's novels? Great talents were said to refer to the terrible mood of depression as the artist's reward. Vince Grant's EP challenges the stigma of mental health with brutal honesty. "Oceans II," from a musical point of view, integrates melody with mood and rides the waves.
The following dolorous track, "The Edge of the World," starts off with a nice guitar introduction reminiscent of '90s pop-rock. Here Vince sorrowfully delivers an apologia where he expresses the consequences of clinical depression. At the edge of the world, he stands alone. But, what is he asking forgiveness for? He's sorry for being careless, selfish; he's sorry for being angry. He's sorry for his transgressions. The music complements the feeling of great sorrow, but spiritually uplifting because these types of regrets are daunting to those that suffer from depression.
Sorrow is followed by isolation on the next track "How Many Times You," where Vince faces the dilemma of wanting to break free of depression, break out and hang out, count stars, and read poetry. But the pain cycles back to the depression. This is perhaps one of the saddest songs because it appears to deprive him of figuring out who he really is. The endeavor finishes off with "Sweet Addiction" and addresses the cyclical state of narcotic bondage that most people find themselves when dealing with depression. Vince goes back to emphasizing the loneliness and weight of the illness as he expresses how the sweet addiction -- perhaps to drugs or alcohol or maybe even the illness itself -- permeates.
Dragging out the endings of his songs only adds to the message of the EP that's best put in his own words: "I write songs to cope. I'd like to say I write songs to heal, but that may be asking too much." To say that this EP is promising, good, or great would be a disservice. It's more than that. It's an ethereal voice that tells us we are not alone.
You can find Vince Grant's EP This Depression Is Always Trying To Kill Me on SoundCloud.
A version of this article was originally published in OnThisIStand.com