STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 22192-16990 LABEL: 7 Spin Music 182821000428 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £9.99
Reviewed by Paul Keeble
This is an album of mostly acoustic guitars backed by drums or loops, often grungy or with vinyl noise, and occasional tasteful keyboard and lead guitar, all nicely complementing Riley's soft vocal style - it's almost like he's in his bedroom and doesn't want to wake the neighbours! It reminds me in places of Jason Mraz or Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout. "Anthem From 4th Place" is a strong opening track, a mid-tempo song with a great melody over a Coldplay-like drum pattern. This leads into "All The Good Ideas Are Gone" with its false start intro - nice idea - another catchy tune and a sharp lyric about television ("Gave my brain to those tired shows/Button on the remote control/Don't know what to think until I'm told"). Third track "Melting" is one of those songs which could be worship or a love song, though the inclusion of "baby" at one point is a clincher. Pity, as it has some lovely lyrics ("My watch is always set to your time/My shoes are always ready and tied") which could be a great description of God's constant readiness to come to our aid. The more explicit "Above Every Name" ("There's no name like the name of Jesus") is hampered by being one of the weaker offerings musically. "Cell Phone" is a cautionary tale about not checking the pockets before washing one's trousers which has a bit of a throwaway feel to it. The standout track for me is "A Lot Can Happen In A Year" with a refrain - "You get me" - that aforesaid Mr McAloon would be proud of. Again, ambiguous but if taken as an expression of worship, lyrics such as "You're strong enough to take me back/Even my third second chance/You get me/You get me" are a refreshingly original take on coming back to God. Riley has a knack for catchy melodies, a creative way with lyrics, and with production and arrangements of voice and instrumentation that make the best of the songs, it all adds up to a strong and original album.
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In a sea of trends and conformity, Riley Armstrong stands out. Perhaps it's proof that you don't need a loud voice to be heard, just an honest one. Riley has dedicated his life to capturing feelings to breathe life into melodies that uncover the beauty of imagination that floats through the nooks and crannies of our days. His legacy is built on the smiles, tears and stories of those who discover the soul of his music. Riley is a vigilante for the different, celebrating the uniqueness in all of us.