|The Sony HF-S90|
90 minutes of mixtape mayhem!
Back then when cassettes were the new thing and you just hoped you didn't stretch the tape by rewinding and replaying your favourite track bands used to record albums with variety. A metal band would have a couple of anthems, a power ballad or two (metal heads can be romantics too), a fast one and then a couple of other.....well fillers. This wasn't just metal, the new romantics, ska and pretty much most pop went for a formula of an album with 3 singles worth of top music then some other experimental stuff that the band had written, that may or may not be like the stuff on that got them into the singles chart. Somewhere along the line record execs started deciding what went into albums and used demographics....and probably the then equivalent of word clouds.... to select the content of albums and they became a unidimensional reflection of their buying public rather than.....well rather than an attempt to broaden a bands musical horizon in a sonic adventure.
But back in the day you wanted to now that an album was all killer and no filler meaning every track had something for you..... I give you......
This album is genuinely all killer no filler - Old School Style. This is a true album and I for one want to stand on a table somewhere and applaud them. Bryan has one of those voices that has you saying "oh he's a little like......." but then you change who is like with every song. If you like the folky earthy feel of Mumford and Sons you'll love this chap; or if you like the troubadour talent of Damien Rice (but better) -he has that talent of singing just a nanosecond off the actual time of the song. The sharp breaths at the beginning of each phrase lending something to the sound that you can't quite pick.....don't know what I mean check out the first 30 seconds of Holy Spirit.... but it is special nonetheless.
Katie Torwalt has a huge mountain to climb in terms of expectation because I grew up with Shirley Bassey, Suzi Quattro, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick - she however nails it. Interestingly her voice is far harder to compare but it is like the gilding on their harmonies - maybe Sara Watkins but with a lower range that is made of honey covered notes - something a little bit country. There is too much music out there now with women trying to power through the full 5 minutes of a track, Katie's voice is beautifully natural and any power is delivered to be a highlight rather than batter you into aural submission. "I see Heaven" is probably the track that you want to check out if you want to hear Katie in full flight!
What makes this a great album beyond the individual performances is the soundscapes they build and the range of music and even instrumentation they use. "Sing Holy" will have you yelling along and then dropping back into places of reflection; it will change the atmosphere of a room and when it fades to silence you will want to stay there indefinitely. "Nothing Holding Me Back" is the track for you if you are caught up in the New British Folk scene Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling watch out this couple are writing beautiful harmonies and melodies that will draw you in. A truly magical track. In fact M&S you should take this couple on tour!! At the other end of the scale you have the huge and theatrical "Let The Sound of Heaven", this will have all the air drummers bashing away at air cymbals everywhere! I could write a little bit about every track, the trill in Katie's voice in "Glorious" another theatrical epic with choral sing-a-long ability, the tub thumping romp of "He is Faithful".......Bryan must have been listening to heaps of William Matthews before recording this I had to make a double take of the ears!
My song of the album though is undoubtedly - "You Saved My Soul", light, airy, wistful, simply brilliant. There is not a track on this album that you won't find something beautiful in: the carefully crafted lyrics, to the ornate and sculptured percussion, the "whole food" chord progressions. There really aren't enough superlatives for this album.
It truly wins and ALL KILLER NO FILLER AWARD!!