Lord Sonny The Unifier Hits Hard with “Pay The Man (When You Leave)”

By Deuce

“Pay the Man (When You Leave)”, the recently released second single from Lord Sonny the Unifier’s forthcoming Extended Player (dropping November 13 as a digital product), is a study in paradoxes in almost all ways that matter in a song.

First there’s the lyrics, typified by the hook in which “the sign says it’s free but you’ve got to pay the man when you leave”. Then there’s the instrumentation. The drums, for example, were surely played live (by Derek Swink, actually), but they don’t sound like it, and are characterized by a smoothness much more typical of programmed displays.

Most of all, you’ve got the caprices of the vocals—specifically the styles evinced by lead singer, guitarist, producer, and synthesizer wiz Greg Jiritano. Some are wondrously distorted, which perhaps is not too uncommon for rock numbers. Then he flips an eldritch, Tricky type style of whispering that comes out of nowhere. During other moments he’s crooning, like almost pleading, but only for a second before he comes in hard on the hook.

And, if you figured all of these styles have distinct vocal effects, you’re on point. You would almost think there were three or four Gregs in the sound booth at different times—or at the very least, some other members of the band backing him up—but he’s the only one credited as a vocalist.

All of which by no means should suggest that the presence of the rest of the fellas isn’t felt on this one. Billy Smollen arguably leads the charge of the brigade on the bass, grooving along something serious on the breakdowns, in particular. Jon Caplan rounds out the quartet on the piano and organ, and is the inspiration for some truly psychedelic (albeit postmodern, and post new age) keys.

With this degree of verve, energy, and diversity from the quartet, there’s no telling what’s to come from the group on the upcoming EP. Chances are, it’ll be worth the wait.

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