EP Review: RUN WITH IT – “How to Start a Fire”

Run With It is one of the hardest-working bands I know. The Kansas City three-piece has been touring and gigging throughout the Midwest, East Coast and Southern U.S. nearly non-stop since Summer 2016 – even playing a concert at Doha Air Force Base in Qatar! – yet somehow managed to also record a superb new EP How to Start a Fire, which dropped on March 24. I’ve been following them for quite a while, and featured them on this blog in February 2016. The band recently signed with the Southern Valley Record label, and I’m thrilled to see their star grow.

Making the music are Miguel Caraballo on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Ben Byard on Bass and Backing Vocals, and Daniel Cole on Drums. (Ben replaced Clint Velazquez who left the band last September to devote his full attention to his Base Academy of Music.) They play accessible pop-rock that draws influences from rock’n’roll, alternative rock, R&B, folk and even a bit of blues. Their song lyrics touch on oft-covered themes of life, love, and relationships, as well as the struggle to find one’s own truth and way in the world.

Run With It
Photo by Chris Mullins Photography

The EP opens strong with the gorgeous rock song “I Need a Light,” which was released as the first single. The track’s arrangement and production values are perfect, and together the dynamic instrumentals and strong vocals create an incredibly tight, compelling song. Musically, the song begins with a lovely piano riff that continues on and off throughout the track, then heavy bass, thunderous percussion and dreamlike synths take over, accompanied by intricate guitar work. Miguel’s impassioned vocals rise and fall with the music’s intensity, and the powerful guitar solo toward the end gives me goosebumps every time.

The emotionally hard-hitting lyrics speak to feeling lost and alone, in search of a path forward and someone who can be counted on: “I need a light so bright that the sun seems dim. I need something that will not fade. Held tight like the hand of a friend. I need someone that won’t runaway.

I love this song, which has spent 15 consecutive weeks on my Weekly Top 20 Chart.

On the pleasing track “Don’t Waste My Time,” the guys skillfully mesh delicate circular piano movements with a lovely guitar riff.  I’m impressed by the generous use of the piano in their music, giving it a fuller, highly melodic sound. Also, some of their songs have an anthemic quality, with complex, layered instrumentals and soaring choruses. A good example is “Time,” a track with beautiful music that contrasts with biting lyrics about how the passage of time can be cruel: “Time, she’s a liar, a thief. Her teeth in my flesh, How do I get free. Blood, the taste in my mouth. Her bloody fist, gonna knock me out.” Another is “One More Fight,” an uplifting song with a sweeping melody and some terrific bluesy guitar riffs, not to mention Miguel’s heartfelt vocals.

Move On” speaks to letting go of a failed relationship and moving on. Again, beguiling piano, layered guitars and just the right amount of percussion make this a great track.  The infectiously upbeat “On Your Own” has a bit of a folk-rock vibe, with robust acoustic and electric guitars, and Miguel’s earnest vocals expressing the hopeful lyrics: “There’s a song deep in your heart. It’s like a raging lion is gonna tear you apart.”

How to Start a Fire is a well-crafted EP with six solid tracks, and I look forward to hearing more from these busy guys. They’ve already begun working on new music for us fans to enjoy.

To learn more about Run With It, check out their website and follow on Twitter /  Facebook /  Instagram. Watch their videos and vlogs on their YouTube channel.

Stream How to Start a Fire on Spotify and purchase on iTunes.

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