Somewhere Between Hope & Despair
Chordaholic is not a band, but one man: singer/songwriter Anoush Khazeni. Nevertheless, the songs on Somewhere Between Hope & Despair have the weight of a group effort, as if Khazeni cloned himself to jam with each doppelganger. Usually these faux bands produce a tinny, bottom-empty sound, often resulting in sonic excess, as there is no sense of discipline. That isn't the case with Chordaholic, as Khazeni seems more focused on the art of songwriting itself than showing off his technical skills or studio tools. 'Like a Melody' is life-affirming soulful pop with a slightly funky backbeat. Khazeni's soft-spoken hooks are a refreshing alternative to the in-your-face bombast of many of today's young artists. However, Khazeni isn't so subtle that the song's gentle qualities are buried in the now trendy indie-rock approach of keeping everything coy. Rather, his approach seems to be rooted in the boyish melodicism of vintage Beatles and the sun-soaked balladry of Classics IV. 'A Reason and a Rhyme' and 'Automatic' are imbued with dreamy tones. Khazeni uses his acoustic guitar to either create atmospheric textures ('A Reason and a Rhyme') or provide the driving rhythm, as on 'Out of This World,' which is fueled by some spellbinding riff action. This isn't some bland strumming job; there is creativity in Khazeni's selection of chords. 'Footprints' begins slowly, but then suddenly bursts with energy, bathing listeners with a shower of warm and lovely vocal harmonies. On 'Butterflies,' Khazeni surprises with a bluesy kiss, revealing another side to his artistry that further solidifies his position of wanting to be more than just another singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar. By ROBERT M. SUTTON Published: April 16, 2009.