Divided Heaven – A Rival City

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Divided Heaven

A Rival City - Paper + Plastick Records

Divided Heaven, otherwise known as the solo project of Jeff Burman (The Boils, Protagonist, The Rites, and The Statiks), finds the typically hardcore and punk aligned band member taking his talents into the acoustic realm for his debut full length, A Rival City.  The album is completely unplugged, primarily featuring Burman and his guitar, along with the odd percussive shaker or keyboard stroke.  For the most part A Rival City makes a solid first impression, but after a few listens I can’t help but feel as though something is amiss.

While Burman’s vocals get the job done, his nasally high pitch doesn’t exactly inspire the mind as perhaps intended.  Look no further than “Born-Again Non-Believer” for a lyrically sound, introspective piece in which the message ultimately suffers from Burman’s lack of vocal range.  Even the backing vocals seem hollow in what seems intended as a mid-song highpoint.  Even “Keystone,” which comes ripe with inspirational intensions and a refreshing honesty lacks the necessary emotional delivery to connect with his audience.  His voice’s steady sameness fades into the background, dragging his political and personal messages down as well.  But it’s not like Burman isn’t capable of such expression – “The Return” for instance is ripe with a feverish passion perfect for communicating his medium.  Down the line, let’s hope this becomes the norm rather than the exception.

I went into A Rival City really rooting for Divided Heaven.  Not only did Jeff Burman have an inspirational story backing him up, but he also opted to give the entire album away for free from day one.  With a generous spirit and refreshing honesty, I can’t help but cheer from the sidelines despite my obvious disappointment.  So while A Rival City might be worth little more than a brief listen, I’m still hopeful that Burman can bounce back for his next solo endeavor.