October 4th, 2015 | Album reviews

Paul Bergmann
Romantic Thoughts EP
Fairfax Recordings

Paul Bergmann released his first album 1 a little over a year ago, and it was a sleeper hit that stayed in regular rotation for those in the know. Clear nods to the man in black and Bergmann’s ominous baritone vocals established his sound, and this latest 5-song EP finds Bergman taking the best aspects of his debut and elevating them to new heights. The musical growth demonstrated here is quite remarkable, with a new complexity to songs that now tug at multiple emotions. Take, for example, the opening track “You May Never Know,” which starts with a very “Be My Baby” drum beat and gently introduces a distant tambourine and light and catchy guitar riff. The song’s warmth, along with the dreaminess Bergmann evokes with his vocals, makes for pleasant contrast to the somber and heavy lyrics. The rest of the album continues the fuller expression of Bergmann’s musical talents, heading in a direction that feels very genuine. Highlights include the Americana-influenced ballad “Wishing Song,” a lovely duet with Warpaint’s Emily Kokal, and my personal favorite “Ocean Song,” which is a slow and slightly twangy song that puts Bergman’s skill as a songwriter to the test. The simple piano part, the quiet drumming, the subtle guitar melody and of course his signature soaring vocals all work together to create something heart-wrenching in all the best ways. If this EP is any indication of what we have to look forward to from Bergmann, we are in for something great.

—Zachary Jensen