There’s certainly something to be said about a group of men able to connect so keenly not just to themselves and their own distinct sense of beauty, but also to each other in order to weave a lush tapestry of sound the likes of what they’ve accomplished here. The Reign of Kindo are a special breed of collective musicians, ever humble yet supremely in tune with their abilities, always eager to connect with their fans, and always pushing their own musical boundaries itching to see where their new perspectives and experiences in life take them from one record to the next. With their latest effort Play With Fire the collective seamlessly incorporate new pianist Danny Pizarro Jr into their world and once again add some subtle tweaks to their sound heard on This Is What Happens to create a lavishly emotional record perfect for your warm summer evenings.
Those wishing for the band to go back to their more progressive, slow burning sound of their debut Rhythm, Chord, and Melody will unfortunately be disappointed as Play With Fire is definitely a spiritual successor to the more pop-oriented, upbeat style of This Is What Happens. The record keeps a brisk pace throughout its runtime driven by another stellar performance by vocalist Joseph Secchiaroli and drummer Steven Padin. The music has a distinct depth to it akin to the group’s debut yet manages to retain a poignantly jovial mood. Play With Fire accomplishes this through a potent combination of excellent instrumental layering and some infectious hooks mainly by way of the vocals. Personally where The Reign of Kindo has always shone brightest has been in their slower-paced songs and while Play With Fire doesn’t contain as many as previous releases, their vigor has not dropped at all. The band manages to tug at your heart strings as easily and effortlessly as before and combined with lyrics that don’t hide behind metaphors for you to ascertain meaning makes the punch that much more powerful.
An interesting aspect of Play With Fire and further proof of the group’s skillful chops, is the lack of guitar leads. While obviously not completely absent, the guitar is utilized sparingly and usually as back-up for the lead instruments, namely the drums, horns, vocals, strings, and piano. In addition to a healthy dose of trumpet and saxophone, Play With Fire showcases the group’s most diverse array of instruments and by extension the most diverse collection of songs to date. The best examples come way of two Latin/jazz mash-ups, the album highlight “Impossible World”, and “Romancing a Stranger.” The group also explores a wide variety of topics throughout the record as well as producing music which perfectly fits each mood they convey.
The Reign of Kindo are a non-profit organization, they earn no profit from their collaboration yet they still bestow upon the world their biggest, most diverse album in Play With Fire. This record and this band have found a special niche amongst the adult contemporary/pop/jazz/indie scene, a space fit for only them. It’s obvious the group are best friends, not mere colleagues, and every note played in this record cements this fact and whatever legacy they are sprinting toward. Play With Fire is a record suited for any mood, any time of day, for any time of the year, and those willing to sit back and let the music wash over them cannot deny that some emotion in them, however briefly, has stirred.