Indie Soull is back again, although in truth he never really went away. The prolific singer-songwriter has been using his time in lockdown well, continuing his creative streak on the new EP Once Upon A Time In New York City. Consisting of three full tracks, which I will cover here, along with a number of instrumentals, the EP explores the themes of isolation and emptiness that many of us will be able to relate to during this crisis.
Once Upon A Time kicks the EP off in a reflective mood as Indie Soull recounts a life-changing relationship found in New York City, and the love that brings not just for the person but also the city. Unsurprisingly considering the theme, it’s quite reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel in it’s style. The track starts off rather gently, the acoustic guitar softly strumming chords behind Indie Soull’s ethereal vocals, and the piano breezily running melody lines throughout. As the song goes on and the hook-filled chorus enters, the playing becomes subtly more emphatic. By the final chorus, there is a strident timbre to the tune that’s reflected in the energy of the vocals.
Live Forever has a bit more ardor right from the start, with the rhythmic bass and jazz-influenced guitar reminding me somewhat of Tracy Chapman. However, as Indie Soulls’s tunes often do, it also evokes a very specific reference that was unlikely to be a deliberate inspiration, and this time it’s Manic Street Preachers. A number of their tracks, both old and new, acoustic and electric, utilize a similar-sounding chord pattern to me, although their music certainly has a different tonality to it. The hook is wonderful, and the vocals once again are swathed in soul as Indie Soull eulogizes on immortality and stalled progression.
The third track Where Did New York City Go? is a more detailed tale about the fun of late-night NYC, and the social vacuum that now fills the city. The melancholy that fills every element of this track is quite outstanding; the nostalgic lyrics, the beautifully emotive vocals, and the sublime piano melody, all adds up to a song that already sounds like a classic. Despite it’s very timely theme it also feels somewhat timeless too, and the bittersweet hook is instantly magnificent.
In a way, I think that Once Upon A Time In New York City speaks to much of the universality and individuality of Indie Soull’s songwriting; he manages to evoke artists from a relatively wide spectrum in often quite specific ways but never sounds even close to an imitation. His music is of course comparable to other acoustic singer-songwriters, but as his song-writing improves and becomes more adept, his individual sound really starts to flourish. There’s an old adage that the best music is that which sounds both familiar and original at the same time, and despite the minimalism of his sonic elements, Indie Soull continually hits the mark between these antitheses.
Album Review of “The Book Of Angels”
The album begins with a simple piano introduction, before moving into California, a love letter to the the golden state which follows on from a number of other songs Indie Soull has named after US states. The chord patterns remind me of Jack Johnson’s summer evening style melodies, while the faltering vocals and echoing atmosphere reminds me of Passenger’s more stripped back moments.
After this is the title track, a classic piano ballad with shades of gospel. There is a really life-affirming tone to the song, unsurprising given it’s biblical themes of birth and renewal, but the songwriting is strong enough to go beyond the Christian soulfulness and create something even a staunch atheist such as myself can appreciate.
Tides has a particularly Ben Howard-esque vibe with its use of soft strings and dynamic vocal tones. Quickly ranging from the quiet and fragile to the bold and full-blooded, the song is cleverly composed and the most interesting tune on the album. Time brings back some country sounds from his previous work, adding a gorgeous layer of slide guitar to the instrumentation. There are some moments where the track threatens to really take off, and it’s the one time on the album where the song may have benefited from kicking up a gear. That being said, it’s still a gorgeous tune and Indie Soull’s vocals here are top class.
Anything is a really beautiful and subtle track that has shades of Damien Rice about it. It’s a perfect example of what I spoke about in the beginning, a song that works best in it’s elemental form: acoustic guitar, soft vocals, and plenty of aural space. Nothing more would make this song any better, it’s perfect just as it is. The final track, The Lord Taketh Away, has some more gospel vibes to it and a chorus hook which is immediately memorable. While the track is also a subtle acoustic guitar-driven song, you could easily imagine this track producing huge sing-a-longs at concerts.
Indie Soull is clearly a talented singer and songwriter who has a real knack for the kind of stripped back earworm tune that can gain mass appreciation without losing meaning along the way. There is a balance to his style too, something that sits not quite in the dark and introverted styles of Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell, nor in the pop stylings of Ed Sheeran or James Blunt, but somewhere in between. The greatest moments on this record are the ones where Indie Soull’s character really comes alive, and I find that most often on the soulful acoustic guitar lead tracks. The Book Of Angel’s is a fine addition to Indie Soull’s catalogue of work and should act as another stepping-stone in his artistic progression.
You can follow Indie Soull on Twitter @indiesoullmusic and Instagram @soullindie
Reviewed by Will Johnson for WORDS IN THE EARTH.
Company Name: Indie Soull
Contact Person: Media Relations
Email: Send Email
Country: New Zealand