On his latest album Suzanne Kraft, Los Angeles native Diego Herrera, now based in Amsterdam, takes the pulse of a moving heart. Written at a time when a flourishing romance was abruptly transformed by forced distance, About you going through emotional ups and downs in search of a stable footing. Musically too, Herrera continues her story of self-reinvention, exchanging the peaceful calm of ambient music – which was itself a departure from the punchy, disco infused house from the first part of his career – for blissful chamber pop influenced by the shoegaze music of his youth.
“And then I was gone,” Herrera sings weakly in the opening “On Our Hands,” stopping to ask, “Was that the same for you as I was?” The synth chimes are playful and the drums laid back, but there’s an underlying doubt to remind you that it’s not that simple: when there’s a physical gap between you and the person you love, you miss out. you as much as you miss her? Should you even ask, or do you already know the answer? “Waiting” further heightens the paranoia, crashing with a fuzzy guitar tidal wave as Herrera ponders the anxiety of separation: “You may have known someone for ages,” whispers. he, “but that’s not a game-changer” to guess where things stand. The album’s most vivid moment comes when the wall of sound falls for the briefest moment, mimicking the feeling of your heart skipping a beat as the text notification you’ve been waiting on the edge finally pops up.
Herrera also explores the joy of a heart spiraling out of control. On “Blush,” he expresses the simple desire to be around his crush while sharing a wordless moment of tenderness, begging his beloved, “Sigh another sigh for me.” The guitar stretches out over long tracks as the synth washes like a gentle tide over a lazy bassline, creating an atmosphere conducive to cuddling. “Attenuate” leans most heavily on the indie-pop sound that Herrera channels, highlighting a more melodic side to his vocals as it bounces off a jangly guitar and crisp, catchy percussion. He embraces her change of direction just as he welcomes the excitement of a new love affair, singing, “Jumping the gun can be the best sometimes.”
The closing track “Going Down” brings it all together, celebrating the pleasure and pain of deep desire in equal measure. Once again, Herrera flaunts his mastery of mood setting, but rather than the airy textures of his ambient music, he swirls sharper, more lively elements – an airy guitar and undulating synth line are joined by a low crackle and a soft saxophone, all jostle to come to the fore. Herrera sings for the first time on this album, but her voice remains muffled, her words pressed to her chest; it almost looks like he is singing through parted lips. “Going Down” marks a moment of delicate intimacy not only for the artist, but for his confidant, the listener. About you finally puts the man behind Suzanne Kraft in the foreground as he offers more of himself – his voice, his memories and, most importantly, his heavy heart.
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