High Praise for Rothstein's
Evan Dale // Aug 5, 2018
Roll up your pant leg and make for elevation because Rothstein’s High Water is here, and we don’t stand a chance. The Boston songwriter, vocalist, rapper, and producer has sent a stream of preliminary waves en route to his debut album, four of which find their rightful place in the nine-track, 27-minute exhibition of vibes.
When Rothstein released his breakout track, Get Your Shit Together in 2017, the world collectively began waiting for a full-length project, and ceremoniously, the track works its way into High Water’s lead-off position. To hardcore fans (of which Rothstein has many), the decision is something of cutesy homage to the moment their favorite artist began earning the respect he long deserved. For the fans who arrived in tow of the track itself, it’s a celebration. For anyone else, the decision is an obvious one because Get Your Shit Together for lack of a better modern expression, slaps. And slap and slaps.
But in doing so, it also sets a tone that merges high-energy, high-fidelity hip-hop with emotionally capable, knee-buckling love, lust and loss. And that’s exactly what we’re given with High Water though not in a way anyone has ever crafted before.
Which is a good thing because comparisons are oftentimes useless, subjective, perhaps even offensive to an artist and their artistry. What you do need to know and what we will say is that Rothstein truly has one of the most unique sounds in music. His sonic texture is a construct of complex production, layering, and lyricism working in harmony with subtle and understated hi-fi vocals. But he seems to pull it together free from the constraints of outside influence. He has an undeniably signature sound non-replicable without sounding like an unapologetic biter. And that signature sound is somehow able to simultaneously transcend a wide breadth of styling and mood.
There are the laid-back jams. Yamazaki feels like walking across the tarmac on a tropical island, cocktail in hand, about to embark on a long-overdue flight home. Sitting Low is an ode to 90’s R&B à la smoke anthem. Arraignment is a dynamically somber undertaking of emotion and High Tide is a synth-driven melody of sweet and especially low-key vocalism.
There are the bass-laden, high energy explosions like the angsty Dead Weight and the energetic Swim, a lyrically-endowed display of Rothstein’s undervalued penmanship.
And somewhere in between exists Rothstein’s bread and butter. A Million walks a fine line between the mellow banger and the new-age love song, with Rothstein tight roping a bouncy beat with a somehow sensual tale of loss and acceptance. October sees Rothstein crooning his lungs out for love. And then of course, there’s Get Your Shit Together.
When discussing High Water, diversity seems to be the name of the game. Modern artists are expected to either transcend genre or exist free of its confining boundaries. Rothstein’s sound can be applied to either definition. Fans of hip-hop, R&B, electronic, and mellow pop will struggle to find fault with the project, incorrectly citing a lack of conformity and singularity as a misstep. High Water is bold, wildly inventive, and impossibly unique while finding balance as a ratable, applicable, and all-inclusive sound.
The expectedly high-quality debut album required of Rothstein to further his swift and imminent rise.