Ezra Caspi, 17, wrote, produced, recorded and performed a debut full-length, “The Best Is Yet to Come,” in a way that belies his age.
Seventeen-year-old singer-songwriter Ezra Caspi is a retro-rockin’ second-generation Jersey Shore musician, but he isn’t following in the Doc Martens of his father, local punk great Jon Caspi. Instead, he channels the luscious harmonies of Crosby, Stills & Nash, as well as The Beach Boys; their rich pop arrangements, along with those of The Beatles, and the smoky vocals of Jackson Johnson and Elvis Costello.
The two best tracks on Caspi’s first full-length outing, “The Best Is Yet to Come,” are kind of like bookends relating to the theme of youth crafted in a way the belies his age. While “My Youth” looks forward within a dichotomous ’60s-inspired style, complete with Farfisa organ, the closing title track looks back at the pain of bullying in a cathartic, uplifting way.
I love the way “My Youth,” which reminds me a bit of Buffalo Springfield, smashes up the ends of the verses with the beginning of the choruses, thereby showcasing young Caspi as a producer.
He recorded the entire album in his bedroom, programming exotic instrumentation, such as Beatlesque sitar and tabla ala “Norwegian Wood” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” on the title track, as well as its closing “Sgt. Pepper”/”Abbey Road”-inspired fanfare. The strength of this track also is in the lyrics, particularly the last two verses: “Well, I set out on my journey through the cheaters and their lies, while their words poured in around me, not immune to their device. And it took nine long years until I learned my way, knowing that hate is not the answer and to learn from my mistakes … Well by the time I got to high school, I’d been broken by their crimes, and I built up courage on heartbroken nights with every note that I could find. And after four long years, well, I’ve finally found my place with my friends that give me freedom and a girl who gives me faith.”
The lyrics of “Follow You” also are strong in a tune that the sports the passion of Zack Brown within the structure of The Who-like power-pop. Caspi writes, “There’s a dark cloud on my generation. Everyone is so worried about themselves. Don’t try to tell me that it’s OK to hurt someone for your own gain. Do you feel my pain?”
“The Best Is Yet to Come” is a follow-up to a four-song EP, “Summer Girl,” recorded and released when Caspi was only 15. The new album’s highlights also include:
- the opening atmospheric instrumental, “Initiation,” which channels the weather within its soundscape
- “Ghost,” a pretty love song made prettier within a beach setting
- acoustically spare “Awaitin’,” which features a lush vocal harmony in the tradition of Crosby, Stills & Nash
- “Say Whatever,” a nod to the innocent charm of Buddy Holly and the truthful croon of Elvis Costello
- “Yours, Mine,” which will appeal to fans of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Byrds with its folk foundation and rich vocal tapestry.
You can hear Ezra's father on Feb. 23 at Espresso Joe’s in Keyport in a performance that may include Ezra joining his dad for a few songs. Ezra's own gigs include March 16 at the Chubby Pickle in Highlands. On May 18, he will open the second day of the inaugural Makin Waves Fest at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch (all of Makin Waves Fest will be announced on March 3).
For more about Ezra Caspi, follow him on Instagram here.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.