Phonotonal
Chris Hornsby

Chris Hornsby
EP

Chris Hornsby is a talented twenty something from Northumberland and his 5 track CD is an acoustic affair that is has a good selection of tracks on it. In his biog he states that he is a multi-instrumentalist who has played across the continent in guitar bands to big bands and played assorted instruments from the guitar to the flute. As a student in he Newcastle gigged as a singer/guitarist in a couple of bands performing his own songs from where he decided to start out again as a solo artist, which brings us to this EP.

We kick off with ‘Come On, Call Me Back’, a strange sort of love song where Chris is longing for you to call him back from his flight ‘around the world, with a jet black coffee wired to his side’, where it seems that he just wants to have a quite evening in watching TV. He paints good strong pictures in your mind with his lyrics, which do their job in transporting you into the song. However, every now and then some odd phrasing jars slightly. Its fair to say his singing is the probably weakest part of the performance as he doesn’t have very good breath technique and so is snatching for air during some of the lines while running out of breath during others. This has the effect of strangulating the words and not letting them have as much effect as they could have.

‘In Here’, is a slightly funkier number that suits his voice a little better but I still think he would benefit from finding a singer (he shouldn’t have a problem there, as he writes interesting lyrics and tunes which a good singer would just improve and enjoy singing.) Again this song paints very vivid images in your mind from ‘the toilet sitting at the top of those stairs’ to ‘trying to stop feeling like I’m plugged in at the wall’ to ending up ‘lying like a starfish on the floor’ which raised a quite unpleasant picture in my mind.

The next track ‘Tired and Marvellous’ is a post-coital love song dealing with the age old dilemma of falling asleep after the act but wanting to capture the moment to leave it with you forever. As with the rest of the songs here, the music and the lyrics work effectively and suit each other in drawing you into the song but I would like to hear it with another singer as Chris really doesn’t have the upper register to sell the song.

The last 2 songs here are also well written with ‘My Love’ showcasing Chris’s picking skill on the guitar and ‘Successful Manoeuvrings’ showing that sometimes less is more with music if you can distil a thought ( or an argument in this case) down to a minimum – where if well done it can have a greater impact than having Bruce Dickinson screaming at you.

Overall I liked this EP and Chris is a very good writer who is comfortable with his style. There are some odd phrasings within the songs, but nothing that completely jars. The biggest problem I had with CD is Chris’s vocals, he can hold a tune but his voice didn’t do justice to the songs or his writing, if he can find someone in tune with his writing, then I think, as well as the songs sounding better, he will be released to do what he is best at which is writing and playing.

Guest article from Neil R.

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