The first few seconds of “Soar” consist of nothing but Michael Pinder’s voice. It’s a pensive voice – the voice of a singer present to the meaning of every syllable. There’s something heartbroken about it, too. Pinder’s vocals on “Soar” communicate pain and longing, inner strength, and preternatural balance; his is the voice of a graceful man, one who knows a few things about rising above troubled circumstances with his dignity intact. Soon, Pinder is joined by a gentle acoustic guitar. Even as it underscores the reassuring quality of the song, it also amplifies the emotional intensity of the singer-songwriter’s performance.
One minute in and the full band has arrived. Pinder is a sure hand with arrangements, and he can wrap a novel melody around an interesting chord progression as well as any musician in the Golden State. “Soar” demonstrates the depth of his compositional intelligence. But no matter how much the Michael Pinder combo cooks – and they do slip into a crisp, irresistible groove – the focus remains on the frontman, the story he’s telling, and his words of comfort and entreaties on behalf of self-reliance.
Pinder’s listeners have come to depend on that sort of complexity. His prior tracks have been every bit as warm and sophisticated as “Soar” is: the plaintive, autumnal “Searching For September” established him as a man to watch, and the aching “So Confused” deepened his character and extended his winning streak. But we don’t think he’s ever been quite as forthright, quite as honest, and quite as compassionate as he is on “Soar.” It’s a song to build a career around – and Pinder is just taking off.
Rob Fitzgerald’s empathetic and beautifully shot clip for “Soar” captures Pinder in his native California, and as is often true in the Northern part of the state, it’s raining. Pinder is the video’s narrator, but he isn’t the protagonist: instead, the camera follows a young woman’s journey from resignation to confidence. At the beginning of the clip, she’s surrounded by protective objects that link her to the past: a toy deer, an umbrella, a raincoat, a scribbled love note. Frame by frame, she grows in self-possession, and as she does, we watch her shed the things that tether her to the person she once was. By the end of the video, she stands alone in the forest with her head uncovered, her eyes wide, and the hint of a smile breaking out on her face.