Chamber pop. A hopeful, young Welsh artist sings about his impressions of Rome and young women and authenticity in art. A really optimistic feel to this one. The focus here is on the voice, and with good reason--it’s very strong, flexible, and reaches some very high notes. The lyrics are clear and easy to understand. High production value--lots of strings, brass, harpsichord. Not overproduced, though, which so much chamber pop is; the voice still feels like a voice, having to strain for notes sometimes. Surprisingly bold in moments: one of my favorite tracks has an experimental edge, and bits of spoken word are integrated throughout. As with most chamber pop, there are a lot of moving pieces, but when they sync up, it really works.
Recommended: 1, 5, 6, 2, 9, 12
1) ** “How to Recognize a Work of Art” (3:38): Brassy. Opens with vocal sample. Talking about authenticity in art.
2) * “Don Juan” (3:00): Stylized harpsichord and flute. Baroque atmosphere.
3) * “Passionate Friend” (5:46): Bouncing intro. Lots of strings. Builds to some lovely passionate moments for the singer. Reminds me of a scene from a musical.
4) “Refugees” (3:30): Voice and the piano. Jones singing mostly to himself. Not really a chorus--highly introspective. Birdsong at the end.
5) ** “Rome” (4:25): Wonderful classical, formal opening. Lightly syncopated theme.
6) ** “Rain in Rome” (1:29): Superb highly distorted transition track. Pattering in the background, like shells opening and closing. Becomes thunder and then applause.
7) “Strange Emotional” (3:48): Jaunty guitar. Kind of strained rocky chorus is endearing.
8) “Return to Life” (5:18): Gloomy opening opens into a hopeful reminiscence. Deeply emotional storytelling. Fake ending about a minute early--then a frenzied little dance number.
9) * “Love” (2:59): Restful moments frame a groovy little chorus.
10) “Olivia” (4:20): Big cymbal clashes. Sprawling, slow opening. Injected with a huge amount of energy at about 1:30; chorus of voices joins in. Long instrumental conclusion.
11) “Featured Artist” (5:27): Bright trumpet to open. Singing about an artist on top of the world. Things fall apart, predictably. “You’ll find me in a grave in Rome.” I don’t think this guy expects to make it big. Last 40 seconds of someone speaking Italian.
12) * “Be Soft” (5:46): Really gentle violin theme. Vocalist asks to us to be soft. A bit more instrumental than the other tracks. Nice ending.