An Amalgamation of Others
Occasionally, you might hear people say, “eh, they sound like they’re trying to sound like Bob Dylan.” Replace Bob Dylan with whomever.
They say it like it’s a bad thing, but it’s a good thing. That means that the part of them that may have been inspired by Bob Dylan (or artists that inspired Bob Dylan) are shining through more than others, at that particular moment, and for that particular listener.
Because to another listener, that artist might sound like Nick Drake.
It’s like when you taste a soup and can pick out the tomatoes in the flavor profile, but your friend tastes the seasoning. It’s not a bad soup; it’s flavor profile is complex.
The next level for an artist happens when it’s hard to put a finger on influences. The genius is still an amalgamation, but they’ve put enough uniqueness into the mix that it’s unnoticeable. They are uniquely themselves.
This is good too.
But the amalgamation is still good. It reminds us that there is a progression to mastery and genius, and every artist must pass through it.