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EP Review // DEREK SANDERS ‘My Rock and Roll Heart’

In his first foray into solo work, Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade brings his classically emotive sound to a tracklist of covers he loved in high school on his EP, My Rock and Roll Heart. 

Derek Sanders My Rock and Roll Heart 2020

What started as a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife has beautifully blossomed into a five-song acoustic covers EP representing an era that inspired his musical journey. The influential tracks are remastered with Derek Sanders’ undeniably unique and emotional voice to create a moving compilation perfect for its Valentine’s Day release.

The EP opens with the track that kicked off the whole process: But Lauren, originally released by Tallahassee-based band, Goodbye Love. Through Sanders’ soulful rendition, you can hear how much this song means to him and his wife. It’s the kind of cover that makes you wish all your boyfriends could pick up the guitar and croon to you.

My Rock and Roll Heart also sees Sanders cover Rocks Tonic Juice Magic from Saves The Day. This cover gives the original release new legs. Sanders’ rendition is smoother than the original and turns the focus onto the lyrics in a way that the original didn’t. Similarly, Sanders’ cover of Something Corporate’s Punk Rock Princess breathes new life into the early 2000s staple. He has kept the essence of the song while lending slowed-down and stripped back vocals to bring us back to punk-rock love ballads of the noughties.

The only feature on the EP sees Sanders pairing up with Tallahassee musician Daniel Lancaster to cover A Praise Chorus from Jimmy Eat World. It is The way Lancaster and Sanders harmonize and play off each other that helps make this a standout track. The love Sanders has for this track envelopes the listener, creating a warm, pleasant blanket-fort to escape into for four minutes.

For the die-hard Mayday Parade, Derek Sanders, or emo fans, this is a nice addition to the library. However, this passion project does what it says on the tin. At the end of the day, My Rock and Roll Heart is an acoustic covers album that is carried by a singer with stand-out vocals. He is paying homage to a period of his life that is nostalgic for him and many listeners, but beyond his vocals and great production, there is not much there to stand above the other acoustic covers of these songs.

My Rock and Roll Heart is still worth a listen, but don’t expect to be stunned.