Having previously premiered his single Home on Folk Radio, the Brighton-based Californian singer-songwriter’s EP ‘The Riverbed’ now arrives, a six tracker showcasing his often intimate style and introspective lyrics. If the name’s not familiar, you may recall the voice from his cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound that was used for the Cathedral City ad campaign and this new collection should help build audience and interest in the months ahead.
It’s a particularly autobiographical and reflective affair, the urgent underpinning rhythm and catchy chorus bedrocking a song about his own journey as man and musician looking to make this own way and survive in the world. As with much of his material, home lies at the heart of his concerns, specifically so in the equally tempo gathering song of the same name, the lines about not knowing what you have until you have to let it go, a tribute to his new Brighton home but also reflecting his father’s experience as a Czech refugee from Soviet oppression in the 80s.
While generally settling comfortably into a familiar singer-songwriter niche, he also finds space to catch you off guard, whether on the sudden soaring falsettos or the scratched percussive notes on the opening of the Simonesque piano-ballad Let Me Know.
He’s behind the ivories again for the orchestrally arranged Michigan, a song about not being in the place you need to be and searching for redemption, and a rare instance of him writing in another’s voice.
Pictures is an all together more subdued affair, a heartfelt acoustic love song that finally erupts into a warm brass mirror of its emotional theme, but its unequivocal commitment is in decided contrast to Weak Heart, a darker (lyrically and musically), edgy number about the fear of leaping into the unknown which, in the final moments, with a swell of brass, finally surrenders to joy.
Rather more classic pop than folk, though those influences are apparent, he’s more likely to be bundled together with the likes of George Ezra and Ben Howard than Nick Drake or Dylan, but, armed with the talent he has, that should do him no harm at all.
Review by: Mike Davies