Rupert Stroud is a name that’s been popping up all over the music scene increasingly over the past few months. His carefully crafted acoustic charm has caught the attention of BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 2, 6 Music, XFM and even several months ago us, when we checked out his April single, the first track off his current four track offering. This mid-September release has developed and extended the melodic joy and acoustic rawness that the leading tracks begins.
Whilst Rupert is usually very much a man-and-his-guitar act, songs off this EP expand that, with synthesised instrumental drawing attention to the intricacy with which his voice carves the track out. In the manner of James meets Everything Everything meets Tom Odell, there’s no acoustic ground unturned in his work, his musical prowess conveyed through the four songs.
Even though it’s been nearly single months since we began our support for Rupert, Morning Light, which commences the release, remains as original as ever. Reinventing the straight-forward acoustic sound, the translucent layers blend together much as coloured tracing paper in the sun, resulting in an ever-changing and continuously enticing sound, whilst roping in the safe bets of an infectious refrain.
Second track Never Back Down touches on a rawer edge to Rupert’s sound, although at certain points this manifests itself as a tad forced, or moments missed. Tiny adjustments would make this song flawless, but key changes and a sense that he doesn’t have the full power needed let the piece down; whilst the track remains calmer and grounded through the verses, it is far superior to the other tracks. There’s also a strange but undeniable sense that the chorus is going to burst into Moby’s The Day.
Returning to his acoustic roots for the longest track off the release, Over opens with a detached guitar intro that continues to lead the track. Staying within his comfort zone, the lyrically-focussed song takes its time building up, and even then the mellowed out and relaxed climax isn’t much of one. Sincere and touching, this is a song designed for easy-afternoon listening, fading out with summer.
Whilst it’s an unusual technique to close an EP with a single, this title track fits after a calming and musing number. As with Morning Light, this brings in the carefully constructed hooks to pick up the pre-chorus into a real belter, one suited to becoming a sentimental summer festival set closer. Despite the obvious similarities with Eliza and the Bear’s It Gets Cold, this rounds the EP off nicely with a feel-good vibe.
This is an EP I want so badly to praise as “perfect”, but little nicks and disruptions in the tracks take the shine off, and whilst it’s clear and confident, it’s not the flawless and jaw-dropping piece I had hoped for.