The elegant and sophisticated Americana Roots sounds of John Vento are on display with gusto on his latest single offering; Sweet Cheslie. On first listen, this is a typical John Vento guitar-vocal track featuring a beautiful accompaniment with vocalist Cherylann Hawk, and adding guest players Shane McLaughlin (guitar/vocals), Bob Zigerelli (vocals), and David Granati (guitar/bass/vocals.) It blends articulate guitar melodies and sweet harmonies with the music and the vocals, yet as we dive into the lyrics there is an underlying undertone that this may be a tribute piece to someone our artist has lost. Sweet Cheslie is just that, a tribute to the tragic loss of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, who shockingly died at the age of 30 from suicide. Exploring the concepts of the high-functioning depression that took this young and full-of potential rising star from us, John Vento is able to blend his signature blend of metaphor with articulation of the underlying details to create a touching, and heartfelt dedication piece. Honoring Suicide Prevention Month, Sweet Cheslie is poignant and deliberate in its efforts to tug at the heartstrings of the audience, ensuring this message will not be missed in the casual consumption of the track. Given the weight of the theme, it is hard for a reviewer to say that this song is enjoyable, however, given the vocal performance by the baritone of John Vento, and the counterbalance of the soprano in Cherylann Hawk, Sweet Cheslie is quite enjoyable and pleasant to listen to. When we couple in the meticulous guitar melodies with the main groove, Sweet Cheslie becomes a track we want to listen to again and again.
As a single, Sweet Cheslie becomes a welcome addition to the already growing catalog of John Vento. A perfect contrast to the other wonderful subject matters he explores, this downtrodden piece offers a glimpse of the more serious side of his songwriting while complementing his artful exuberance to any subject matter. From a production standpoint, Sweet Cheslie is very well-executed, the guitar melodies sit very comfortably between the vocal ranges of the singers while the walking funk carries these harmonies forward with ease, allowing the audience to be encapsulated in the lyrical form. Sweet Cheslie would be a wonderful addition to any Middle-Of-The-Road, Country, Adult Contemporary, or Soft Rock commercial radio format. Although Sweet Cheslie would sit wonderfully in the mainstream, this is also a campfire jam that fans of the Americana Roots style will find highly accessible. This truly is an enjoyable track and a touching tribute to Cheslie Kyrst. Of course, the main goal of a track such as this is to prevent these occurrences from happening again, and with the help of John Vento spreading the message of support and love we may be better off now than we were before.
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