Album – Field Recordings from the City – Sheltered in Sound

Posted by admin on May 20th, 2008

As I sat listening to this CD, it was hard for me to know where to start. There’s a real starkness of emotion, overlaid an equally stark musical backdrop. While I wasn’t immediately sure what to make of it, I found myself like a deer in the headlights, with an impending collision awaiting, however as the lights got closer, the danger was replaced with an open embrace, a turnaround that that happened, oh so quickly.

Although I’ve had this album a good few weeks, it was an album I knew I had to invest some time in. Family life is a wild and complex ride, so fitting in some laid back, “starkly intimate” music, can often be a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I could well have put this album on and let the music wash over me, but then I wouldn’t have had much to write about, apart from the rather pleasant listening experience.

I’ve listened to this album a good few times. From my car stereo, to my home stereo and computer, but it’s only now that while giving myself a refresher on the tracks, that I was blown away by how it sounds on my laptop. Not that it didn’t sound great before, but there’s just something that really seems to be stroking my laptop speakers the right way. Opening with “Falling Stars”, there was a lot that reminded me of Rob Szabo, maybe not too surprising when you consider that both Rob’s album, “Like a Metaphor” and this album were produced by Scott Cooper, long time favorite of Indie Launchpad and a guy who really knows how to fiddle with those buttons to get an incredible final mix.

Some of the songs on this album, bare comparison to either Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, but more in their heyday as opposed to their current incarnations. Musically also the songs here are much softer, more reserved, but no less powerful for it. “Held Hostage by a Restless Heart”, I can almost hear in my head, coming from the mouth of Springsteen, but as mentioned earlier, here there’s much more softness, almost fragility. “We’ll Meet Again”, is a much more conventional acoustic/folk song, but again the sound quality and production shine through, especially the cello, or is it sampled cello, that floats wistfully beneath.

It’s almost all glorious perfection. I say almost as the only track that managed to sour things somewhat for me is “Sleepwalking”. From the reverb on the vocals, to the lacklustre guitar and the really grating drum machine that drove me nuts, every time the track came on, I wanted to hit the next button. In the big picture it’s not a terrible track, just a track that most definitely was not my cup of tea. Now “Mir” had me won over almost immediately. There’s nothing radically out of the ordinary, it’s just in keeping with the rest of the album, and just a track that manages to tick all my boxes. When hearing the first couple of seconds of “No Words”, with it’s drum machine effect, I thought I was going to hate this track, but thankfully the drum machine is fended off for the remaining three minutes or so, and we’re left with another winner.

“Welcome to Generica” has a slightly different sound to the accompanying songs, but it’s refreshingly different and giving another edge to the album. “Requiem in A Flat Minor”, again has a different sound, which while I was glad for a bit of diversity, something about it didn’t click. Were it not for the last track’s title and lyrics, the final two tracks “In Birth and Death” and “One Last Song” would have rounded things off much better had they been swapped. Now this may well be one of my quirks, but unless it’s something compelling, I much prefer a darker, more sombre track to end an album such as this.

Conclusion : Whilst this is an album on the darker, more melancholic side, it’s not at all doom laden. There’s an amazing, almost compelling quality to the songs, that really draws you in and keeps you transfixed. A wonderful album, from an undeniably gifted musician, who I’ll be paying close attention to in the future.

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