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Ben Ottewell - The Gomez singers first solo offering.,
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This review is from: Shapes And Shadows (Audio CD)
The temptation to start this review with the question "whatever happened to Gomez" is irresistible and despite the fact that die hard fans will point towards 2009s "A new tide" as a return to form they are primarily seared on the consciousness of music fans with the production of their 1998 Mercury Prize winning debut "Bring it on" when the gravel blues voice of the young 18 year old lead singer Ben Ottewell came as a blinding revelation on songs such as the epic "Get Miles" and plaintive "Tijuana lady". It was as if a youthful Tom Waits or Rod Stewart circa the Faces had been reborn and relocated to Southport. Now over a decade later the band have decided to branch out into the production of solo albums and this is Ottewell's first lone offering. His recent cover of Jimmy Webbs "Wichita linesman" was a model of its kind and this reviewer offered a little prayer that the songs on "Shapes and shadows" would fall into this broad ambience. Thankfully these have been answered and in these generally excellent songs such as "Blackbird" he has reclaimed some of the territory lost since "Bring it on". The same is true of the excellent title track which builds into a fine construct and a powerful rolling ballad.
True like many solo singers nowadays the ghost of Nick Drake seems to haunt their efforts and the echoes can be heard loud and clearly on the lovely lament "Take this beach" but reaches its height on "All brand new" which has Bryter Layter stamped all over it. . Nonetheless this is a primarily an album located in the genre of Americana which is fitting since it was recorded in Los Angeles in partnership with former Tunng member Sam Genders. Thus it is songs like the more harder "Chicago" with its echoes of Ryan Adams and the excellent single "Lightbulbs" which impress the most. A source of discomfort is sometimes that snatches of old wobbly neck, David Gray can be detected and the album does lack that one absolute killer song to anchor it. "Shapes and shadows" however is a solid debut which suggest that Ottewell should repeat the feat some time soon and could happily survive without his chums from Southport should he choose to strike out on his own. The misty wood on the front cover epitomises what is quite a reflective and wintry album but none the worse for it, with songs contained therein which you suspect will grow in stature on repeated listens.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Feb 2011, 15:36:41 GMT
L. Webb says:
good review. I was going to write one myself saying more or less all you said, but you said it better!
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2011, 10:52:03 GMT
Red on Black says:
L Webb Many thanks for your comment. To be be fair i have listend to this quite a few times now and with the song Chicago grows more and more as a real contender for the best song Gomez never recorded.
cheers R o B
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