Reviewed by Gareth Hills
The feeling you get from solitary, late night listenings of Nick Drake albums is similar to the experience of listening to 'Ctrl'. This is the Caedmon's Call singer's seventh solo studio album and draws the listener deep into Webb's inner sanctum. There is a dark yet sublime sense of melancholy about the songs here, sometimes made explicit as on the third track, "Can't Sleep", which manages to convey the state of psychological exhaustion and over thought that can arise in a lonely soul searching for answers. Elsewhere, as on "A City With No Name", an achingly beautiful track and probably my personal favourite from the album, the meaning is less clear, although as was Nick Drake's great skill, the words and music surround you and you somehow understand, if not in your rational mind. Instrumentally, the pieces are exquisitely constructed. Guitar tends to take the lead, but it's Webb's use of electronics, textures and percussion that elevates this album out of what's usually expected from an introspective singer/songwriter. The album opens with the heavily processed sounds of a church choir, sounding like they are singing a lament over an apocalyptic wasteland. And I suppose this album could be described as bleak. But, I'd choose to describe it as "real". If the primary aim of a singer/songwriter is to connect the listener with the thoughts and emotions of the artist, however uncomfortable and confusing they may be, then Webb has crafted a hugely successful album.
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