There are certain phrases in the musical dictionary that instantly turn me off. Among them are dance, R ‘n’ B, krunk, and more relevantly artiste. By this, I mean those self-indulgent people who put together tunes in their bedroom and demand the world to applaud their works of genius or wallow in cultural depravity forever, an option that usually results in the choice of the latter. So, when I received Michael Wookey’s 4-track demo CD and read the info… I feared the worst. My oh my how wrong I can be.
First of all, it’s all rather understated. His myspace account says he ‘started making music at 15’ and ‘at 18 he started making good music’ which I find delightfully honest and non-egotistical. The music also shows no signs of self over-appreciation; all four tracks are extremely well produced and the levels are just right, avoiding the common current one-man-band pitfalls of excessively loud vocals and ear-splitting ‘contemporary’ synths. Time to get more specific.
‘Come On To My Place’ and ‘What You Deserve’ are both relatively dark and sombre ventures, driven by simple synth chords and processed beats. What really creates the endearing atmosphere that he seems to have mastered, is the layered vocals that surround you (almost tauntingly on ‘What You Deserve’). They sit well in the mix and are soothingly haunting, both unnerving and pleasant at the same time. Sounds contradictory I know but that really is the only way to describe it. The raw, twanging guitar on ‘Come On To My Place’ mixes well with the creepy samples that envelop the chorus and give an uplifting sense leading into the lighter ending section that sweetens with the inclusion of some female backing vocals.
A Liza Tarbuck sample kicks off ‘I Can Show You Things’, being a waltzy happy-go-lucky romp with an infectious chorus that makes you want to grab a complete stranger and, well, show them things. I’m reminded of the Beach Boys’ classic Pet Sounds as I replay this tune; not necessarily the style of music (although it does bear resemblance) but more the feeling of calm, happy enjoyment it gives me. The fantastically simple ‘I Admire You’ extends this feeling up to the end of the CD and if you’re not clapping along by the end of its 2 minutes 21 seconds, you must be void of a soul.
I guess the bottom line is that these are, put very simply, ‘nice songs’. You can enjoy them and sing along to them, after which you will probably have a soft spot for them until whenever your memory fails you. Michael, for my sake and everybody else’s; a full length album please.
Guest article from Matt S.
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