Steffan James – The Truth review

SJThe Truth opens with the instrumental of the title track, and as Steffan’s voice comes in, it blends with the music sublimely, achieving a soft huskiness that many aim for and few reach. The faint vocals and small range may have one convinced that the artist was incapable of anything else, but a few well executed higher notes prove his is not simply a one trick pony. Goodbye features a pacier opening and builds up to a more passionate yet adequately controlled chorus; occasionally I find myself wishing there was more emphasis on the vocals in this tracks, simply as it feels a shame to mask such heartfelt and nostalgic lyrics behind a drumbeat.

When it comes to sentimental soft tracks, nothing cuts it like third track, One More Goodbye. Featuring Poppy Alice, this song sounds what Frank Turner’s Anymore would be like if it featured Gabrielle Aplin. Soft, combined vocals creating an almost silky texture to the music, and the soft instrumental only compliments this. The intro to the next track, Straight to Hell, delivers sort of what you’d expect; a more rock ‘n’ roll, grungier sound, away from the simple acoustic instrumental of the previous songs and at just under two and a half minutes, this tightly packed bullet of a song has the energy to get you singing along from the first listen.

Halfway through the record and Turbulence provides another change – an intro that brought one song to mind; Andy McKee’s Drifting. While not as complicated at that masterpiece, Steffan makes up for this in the lyrical content of his work, his voice rising and falling, paced perfectly with the finger pick of his guitar, each controlling and subduing in rotation throughout. After these contrasting works of art, Inside Out feels somewhat, well, simplistic. Despite the excellent layered vocals and other little gimmicks, it somehow feels rather basic. This is revived by the next track, though, Already Dead To Me. The lyrics “your world is on fire and there’s no one to throw water on it”, are sharper and cut across the music cleaner than the previous tracks have, and the more self-asserted attitude in this track makes this a definite favourite for me.

Fighting With The World is simply one of those tracks so soft and easy to listen to, that it would be a dream for it to go on forever. Nothing is pushed or forced about the lyrics, the simplistic music accompanies the vocals perfectly – it’s the ideal basic formula for a song. At just over four minutes, I don’t think there could be a better track to end this record with that the one chosen to close it; She Knows. The straightforward sound builds and progresses at the song continues, and there’s a highly romantic and sophisticated atmosphere created by the anonymous dedication of the piece.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed