Singer works best on his own

A man on the brink of commercial success, Granian’s Garen Gueyikian uses his latest release as an opportunity to find his own voice.

In a similar trajectory to Chris Carrabba’s rise to fame as Dashboard Confessional, Granian gained fan popularity with its first three independently released acoustic rock albums. And like Dashboard’s newest release, 2003’s “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar,” Granian’s “On My Own Two Feet” features electric guitars, bass and drums. The result is an edgier and, admittedly, a more radio-friendly collection.

Known for a grueling touring schedule, Granian’s latest effort to promote “On My Own Two Feet” came through the New York area earlier this month. In his shows, audiences can see his transformation from acoustic rock soloist to modern rock band, a point the new album demonstrates.

Most of the songs on “On My Own Two Feet” feature a catchy chorus and Garen’s signature voice, a raspy tenor with impressive power. Though his range as a vocalist was more obvious on the lesser produced and accompanied albums, his vocal strength is at its best.

On tracks like “On My Own,” “Mark My Words” and “Contagious,” a catchy chorus allows even those fans unfamiliar with the new material to catch on quickly and sing along. Though the sound has evolved, the music is still crowd-pleasing.

Like its new sound, Granian’s lyrics have also hardened. Unlike Howie Day’s recent single of the same title, the track “Collide” opens with the lines “I want you to corrupt me/I want you to make me bleed.” While Day’s is a song about vulnerability, Granian’s is a darker type of confession.

On tracks like “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Uncovered,” Gueyikian returns to his more sensitive acoustic roots. Both songs remind the listener of the raw emotion Gueyikian puts into his lyrics, capturing those moments of doubt and weakness that made Granian’s previous work resonate with fans across the country.

The R&B influenced pop/rock track “Sex in a Box (Rewind)” captures the difficulty of making up for mistakes in a way that still encourages a listener to get up and dance.

At times, the tracks seem a bit overproduced, especially to anyone familiar with Granian’s older material. New listeners, however, will be easily engaged by the album’s catchy feel. And since a major label deal would bring many new fans, perhaps that’s a good thing.

“On My Own Two Feet” is a fitting title for this collection of songs. The listener gets a sense that Gueyikian has finally come into his own. The defiant nature of the lyrics for “On My Own” and “My Voice” reiterate the point that Granian is a band on the verge of the mainstream with nothing to lose.