STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 150442-21932 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: Digital Only Album
Reviewed by Paul Keeble
Alton Schema is of course Andy Mort and is something of a Greenbelt favourite. This is his third album. It reminds me of another talented one-man-band multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter, Aqualung. Each song is well written and played with sympathetic arrangements. AS is also an able engineer and producer, getting a lovely acoustic guitar sound and on several songs nice tightly layered backing vocals. The melodies are strong (though the tune of the title line in "Help Me (If You Can)" strongly resembles that of a certain Fab Four song) and the lyrics interesting, if mostly somewhat self-centred, describing and analysing the writer's feelings ("I can't breathe/I'm choking on my excuses": "My Own Excuses"). I recently went to a gig where the support act was a bearded young man hunched over a keyboard who appeared to play the same slow I'm-so-depressed song eight times. The difference here is that each song is good, but if I have a criticism of 'Year 0' it is that all this introspection and the slow or mid tempos begins to wear a bit over the course of a full album. Having said that, 'Year ()' is one of those albums which probably has more depth than a few listens for a review can get to, so ask me again in a year. There are a number of good moments, but the the highlight for me is closer 'Traveller' with a great chorus: "I'm a traveller who's scared to move / I'm a traveller / I'm a traveller who's scared of moving on", building to a coda layered with exquisite layered backing vocals. It is hard to tell what if anything is going on here faith-wise. 'Help Me (If You Can)' could be a prayer: "Help me if you can, I'm on my way back down / I don't know if I can float this time around" while "Borderline" contains the lines "What are you doing up there in your big golden tower?/Trying to reach God/Trying to hide from God". If you want an album to chill to on a rainy evening, check this out.
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