Reviewed by Ewan Jones
'Whisky' is the first of two EPs to be released by Mitchell in 2011 (the second, 'Water', will follow towards the end of the year). This is an epic, brooding affair, a reflection on life and hardship, hope and truth. Intelligent writing, elegant delivery, the creative use of rhythms and song structure combined with some killer melodies should see Mitchell increase his growing fan base. Mitchell is not new to the gigging scene having toured with Joan As Police Woman among many others, but this, his first official recording, is his response to the constant requests for something for fans to take home from his gigs - he explains his reasoning: "I've been gigging for a few years now, selling sub-par demos to fans. I thought it time to bring them a release that I was properly proud of." So, he should be deservedly proud of this set of songs. The arrangements are imaginative and energetic, Mitchell's lyrics are insightful and delivered with an irresistible Northern Irish twang. "Caught In Fires" is a bold start, "These Dirty Words" is smart storytelling with a chorus that draws the listener to empathise with its struggling protagonists. It also has a Mumford And Sons vibe - a comparison that I offer reservedly with the expectation that Mitchell would possibly resent as a lazy comparison. The centrepiece to the CD is "Harris", its upbeat nature belying its narrator's search for hope in the harsh light of death - "The truth is it's scaring me/That we could be here one day, then gone." It's also the source of the EP's name, its titular character having looked to drink to deal with life's troubles - Mitchell laments, "Whisky it only helps for a bit/And I knew it/Still came undone, until I was numb and I cried like a child/But somehow there's hope inside of me." As melodic and approachable as Duke Special, and as emotionally raw as Foy Vance and with the pop sensibility that saw Snow Patrol rocket to success (all of whom hail from the musically prolific Northern Irish town of Bangor), Lee Mitchell deserves to get some serious exposure off the back of this release. On the release of 'Water' will the two EPs have made more sense as a 10 track album? Time will tell, but there's plenty to get your teeth into in these five beautiful tracks.
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