A few days ago, singer-songwriter Ari Pappalardo released a new album, entitled Minstrel Class, an eclectic fusion of indie-rock, pop, and jazz elements packed with lyrics about topics such as unrequited love, voodoo, ghosting, loss of innocence, and regret. A Southerner, Pappalardo hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. At the age of 16, he began writing songs, demonstrating a unique understanding of vulnerability and its intimate effect on listeners.

Encompassing 11-tracks, Minstrel Class begins with “Where is the Line,” opening on tones vaguely reminiscent of Godsmack, and then shifting to gentle layers of harmonics conjuring up memories of Sting, primarily because of Pappalardo’s granular tenor, imbuing the lyrics with strident timbres.

Speaking purely subjectively, entry points on the album include “Spellbound,” featuring a shimmering intro flowing into a low-slung indie-rock melody flavored by tangs of jazz. Pappalardo’s vocals take on subtle, darker hues, instilling the lyrics with tension and vibrant poignancy.

“Halo,” a song about the loss of innocence, travels on a gentle, shiny guitar riding a delicious rhythm, highlighted by a taut, flat snare drum. Glowing washes of sound suffuse the tune with plush leitmotifs as radiant harmonies give the lyrics echoing colors. The feel and mood of the melody give the song an alluring buoyancy.

Growling blues-laced guitars infuse “Don’t Shoot Me” with dirty, muscular dynamics, twitching and unctuous. A dazzling guitar solo, à la Mark Knopfler, injects the tune with incandescent accents. At once risky and ominous, it’s a grand song, full of both raw and stylish textures.

“No good can come from running into the storm” is the lyrical thrust of “Running into the Storm,” a personal favorite that features a shadowy sing-song piano and a seductive rhythm. Another excellent track, “London Fog” emphasizes the potency of wistful vocal harmonies. The final track—“What Do You Stand to Lose?—rolls out on a piano-driving melody rife with layers of glittering coloration as Pappalardo’s vocals take on savors of breathy tones.

There’s an enticing interior spark to Ari Pappalardo’s music; residual energy that lures listeners in by means of emotional authenticity.

Minstrel Class Track Listing:

1. Where Is the Line
2. Gone N Dunnit
3. James
4. Spellbound
5. Halo
6. Blush
7. Don’t Shoot Me
8. That’s Not How You Love
9. Running Into the Storm
10. London Fog
11. What Do You Stand to Lose?

Run Time: 43:00
Release Date: March 11, 2022
Record Label: White Oak Records