Cory Bishop and Michael Bare released their debut EP as The New Schematics in late 2015. The five-song set took them into new territory as a pop band with electronica elements, but they always maintained a strong story telling lyrical element in their songs. On March 18th the duo released ‘Unplugged+’ where they took the songs from that debut EP and re-arranged, re-imagined and unplugged them….and they are, dare I say (yes, I dare) even better than the originals. The five songs are stripped back and sublimely infused with mandolin, harmonica, and keys; adding dimension and depth to the songs, letting instrumentation and delivery shine while allowing lyrics to resonate.
Incredibly scaled back, “Break My Heart” maintains an airy playfulness as Bishop sings about being a “blue jean Casanova” who finally meets the one who gives him the hope to experience real love. Infused with strings, “Midnight” is darker, more poetic and more effective while “All In” maintains a Lumineers vibe, poppy, yet at the same time rootsy. “The Breakdown (Broken-Down)” is taken from a lush electronica laden song to an alt-country/pop noir tune where the lyrics can firmly sink in, while “Drug” (the only new track) is a witty and perfectly real description of that universal tonic….love. “You can't drink it, you can’t smoke it/You can't shoot it/you sure as hell can’t toke it/But it'll get you higher/And it'll hang you drier/Than God’s greenest grass.” The standout track of the EP though is surely “Born Without Borders” a breathtakingly beautiful, sparingly produced, chest swelling ballad with Bishop’s delivery crushing in the best way possible (similarly as he did with “Crown of Thorns” from his 2014 EP):
"The funny thing about faith
It’s hard as hell to fake.
Believing looks a lot like gambling.
I’ve tried counting cards,
I’ve tried shooting stars,
But all my prayers fade into rambling."
Bare and Bishop prove that you can make old(ish) new again; by giving their songs a fresh take, they allow you to listen and appreciate them in an entirely new, different and enjoyable way.