Hailing from suburban Dallas, Texas, 18-year-old singer-songwriter, Colin Onderdonk is driven to change the world. He channels much of his energies into writing and performing music, incorporating his talents in playing bass, acoustic guitar, piano, and displaying his vocal abilities in a Christian geared format. For his debut EP, titled, Proximity Effect, Onderdonk upholds the sensibility that the closer the vocalist is the mic, the better audiences will be able to receive the sound within the vicinity. In a tangential sense, he likens this to the saying, “As people get closer to God along their spiritual journeys, the more they feel connected.” Intrinsic to his spiritual growth, Onderdonk also exhibits his vocal talents by leading worship at his school in Grapevine, Texas.
From the few purposeful stellar opening notes of Proximity Effect’s first track “Prologue”, we get the full dramatic experience of the dispensed instrumentals. The classic folk intent is encased in the turmoil that feeds from the highly conceptual and sweltering introspective style that is revealed from the suspenseful music. Right from the start, we get a feel for Onderdonk’s perspective. The sonically philosophical sway to the sound adds a certain depth and propensity that is lacking in modern pop music trends today.
Next, we enter “Tidal Bomb”, a bluesy diatribe that projects Onderdonk’s enjoyably husky detailed vocals. The layers of harmonies to this song adds a rocking sound and an expansive outlook given due to Onderdonk’s thoughtful lyrics and compelling songwriting abilities. The elegant style enmeshed with the fusion of galactic guitars rummages a forceful and electric sound. Running underneath the gamut of this track is an underlining force. An energy that is supported by the lush sounds of strings, making this emotional song submerge with rare powerful resonating potency.
Proximity Effect continues to enrich audiences’ experiences by eliciting some of Onderdonk’s smoldering, residual vocals into some jazzy fare with “Walls”. The song drowns within a stormy framework, filled with workings of delirious piano keys, guitar, strong interlays of drums, and the gritty overtakes of more strings culminating in the spiritual message that talks about the Christian life and the dynamic ways of God.
In “Savior’s Hand”, we see Onderdonk’s brooding vocals become engulfed with yearning as he sings about the distractions and trappings of this world and how only through the hand of our Savior may we be saved from such inner angst. The spiritual release is fermented with a darker sound than previously experienced so far on this EP. The deliberately haunting and dreamy outlook adds a soulful layer to the already dusky cadence.
Toward “Foreign Home” we see the rolling, stormy sound become affected by only the sparse accompaniment of vocals and acoustic guitar. Yet the music still flows over you with that same roaring resonating quality that has been a trademark sound within Onderdonk’s debut EP. The song talks about not trifling your life being masked by the worldly aesthetics of this earth, when there is more than meets the eye.
The final song is the title-track to this EP. An enthralling track that provokes the listener to seek more of God’s message embodied in this song, the striking, deeply magnetic sounds of the pounding of drums illustrates the thundering of our hearts inside our chests as we are drawn closer to Onderdonk’s words. The way the polished folk singer is able to mold enthused vocals and utilize the instrumentals into the path of the songwriting process really deepens the lyrics.
Carried with a maturity beyond his years, collectively, Proximity Effect is a group of songs that are powerful illustrations of Onderdonk’s faith. With vocals that are dynamically intact, listeners will bond with Onderdonk’s modern offerings of contemporary Christian folk music. His influences are Marcus Mumford and Kendrick Lamar, and with a sound that careens between Jack Johnson, Neutral Milk Hotel and Antony and the Johnsons, Colin Onderdonk’s textured and emotional style has exquisite possibilities. The EP is out now. 7.9/10