Boston, MA-based multi-faceted musician Saint Blake recently released his debut EP “Voice of a Saint“. From the album cover to the music itself, S.B. exhibits clear influences ranging from the trap music of the mainstream radio to the emotion-laden sing-rap style of Drake and Anderson .Paak, but covered with an underground hip-hop visual. I’m likening this presentation to the 1979 movie “Phantasm”: A sci-fi film disguised as a supernatural horror flick. In listening to this EP, it’s clear that there’s a dichotomy between the music and the package in which it’s presented: The cover is a stained-glass image of the Virgin Mary, however S.B.’s lyrics see-saw between saint and sinner with some dark grooves in the backdrop.
The main single, “Dark Rooms”, sets the tone for much of the album. A semi-clever play on the workshop area used in photography, S.B. talks about his inner demons and a use of both alcohol and drugs to shed light on the “vultures that be lurkin’ on me”. Most of his lyrics are delivered in a melodic singing style reminiscent of certain mainstream rappers, but without the same panache. However, on the synth guitar-driven “Keep It Movin”, S.B. delivers lyrics in rapped form for the most part. Specifically, he spits with that mainstream choppy trap-flow, but incorporates a certain level of melody into it along with a brevity of pop-culture references. He reverts to singing on “Wish it Away”, a meditation on a relationship gone bad.
“Bad Decisions” has a very airy vibe to the beat not seen in the preceding tracks. It lacks many of those darker elements and its atmospheric feel flows with the summer temptation theme of the lyrics: Making decisions that seem right only at that moment. Speaking of which, he boasts in the same song that “when it’s all said and done, I’ma die a legend”. While hip-hop does indeed thrive off of the unbridled competition that’s already inherent in the culture, I think it’s too early for Saint Blake to make that claim. It’s a bold statement, no doubt, but considering this EP is his first shot of out of the gate, it’s premature and inaccurate. The next track, “Peel Off”, has the kind of night-time 808 claps & synths that are tailor-made for strip clubs.
Saint Blake’s singing is most pronounced on the track “Mirage”. A track of pure seduction, the echoed melodies in his vocals convey a similar surreal feeling to the title itself. Well-aware that he has “an infatuation that can’t be refused”, S.B. follows the same theme on “Bad Decisions” in that he knows that obsessively stewing over and then seducing his female target is unhealthy for him. The EP is rounded out by the final tracks “On1y 11oNe” and “Halfway Home”. The former makes thematic sense when the latter is done. The title of the former refers to centers for addicts (among others) to receive treatment so they can adjust back into society. But what’s Saint Blake addicted to? Women, self-medication, and perhaps even his music.
“Voice of a Saint” is an 8-track EP with an admirable do-it-yourself aesthetic. Saint Blake self-produced the whole album and had no outside guest appearances providing him with any kind of assists. While I do think he has a level of ability and clearly has a polish to his style that makes it almost indistinguishable from the mainstream sound, I also believe that S.B. hasn’t yet come out with a style that truly defines him. Had the rapping portion been made more of a priority than emulating melodic raps, then “Voice of a Saint” would exhibit greater potential than the small sliver that it has displayed.