In the same vein as Leah Zicari and more established individuals like Fiona Apple and Ani DiFranco, Kelly Snyder seems to be on a stratosphere rise simply due to the style of music that eir puts on “Oxygen”. I mean honestly the Amos/DiFranco bunch will buy this up with a spoon, but is the disc honestly any good? Kelly has an ear for pop, and producer Charles Newman has cultivated eir sound into a largely inoffensive and perfect polished brand of piano-rock that will be safe for the all-important child demographic (like genre relatives Vanessa Carleton and Michelle Branch). Tracks like “I Didn’t Know” are crafted in such a way that the backing instruments placed on the track sound artificially constructed, as if Charles went through banks of samples and fit the track together, piece-meal. Snyder’s vocals on “I Didn’t Know” seem to only point this flaw out more, as the disconnect that they have with the instruments on the track makes the track disjointed as all get out.
The self-titled track shows the weakness of Snyder’s voice, as a number of the times the overall feeling on the track is that the producer just cranks up the vocals, instead of Snyder eirself increasing the volume and pitch. This really screams out to me to be a weakness that would only be magnified after everything in the studio is shucked away and Snyder is trying to impress audiences at coffee shops and the like. There is no spontaneity on this disc, no soul; whatever is constructed to sound “soulful” on “Oxygen” is just a sham, a coyly-constructed set of perfect-sounding vocal trills and studio musicians that can do nothing to stave off the lacking that “Oxygen” puts forth. The trend of largely-pop influence (think in the vein of Mariah Carey) pop starlets masquerading as earnest musicians is present in Kelly Snyder – just listen to the wildly vacillating vocals found during “Are You Missing Me?”.
The entirety of “Oxygen” is couched in the dominant musical genres of the nineties, and really brings little to the plate in terms of newer influences. When tracks like “Fall” fail to string along listeners, owing much of the weakness during the track to Snyder’s own voice and the off-sounding piano, the disc gives a view into the true Kelly. I like these tracks more than the pre-packaged pop that is found through the disc, even if it is not as “decent” as the rest. Still, a flash of the singer’s humanity does not an album make, and Snyder should keep putting eir nose to the grindstone.
Top Tracks: None