It’s always tough ploughing the singer-songwriter, acoustic troubadour furrow. Tough because there is such a legacy of great music already set in the musical stone. Tough because there is so much competition for the ears and the disposable incomes of music fans and gig-goers. But how do you stand out from the pack, particularly when you have such cherished traditions as your road map and so few musical resources, fundamentally the voice and the guitar, to draw on?
Some may opt for quirky gimmicks and fashion statements, some try plagiarising the past or trying to invent fusion sounds to pave the way to a new future, thankfully Buddy Taccolini, the man behind Walking Apollo, is smarter than that. He is aware that it’s all about the songs. Get that right and you are already way ahead in the game. And as this 5-track release easily proves, he has the songs. Actually, he has really great songs. He is also smart enough to know that if the songs speak for themselves then you don’t need to bury them under layers of additional instruments. And it is his ability to write such timeless and tasteful songs coupled with his economical approach the additional musical textures he wraps around them… a graceful violin here, a gently chiming piano there… which makes for such a great listening experience.
Having a great voice doesn’t harm the cause either, and it is his soft yet wonderfully full tones which are often doing the lions share of the work. And the fact that he is careful about just how much sound he brings to the sonic canvas means that there is much emotion and atmosphere to be found in drifting through the spaces between the notes and in the fading lyrics between the lines, as there is in the more carefully planned moments.
If anyone can listen to Shove’s opening line of “The crickets are waiting for us to sleep so they’ll have someone to sing to” without immediately thinking of a loved one or at least wishing that they had written the line themselves, probably doesn’t have an ounce of romance in them. In fact they might not actually be human but either way they should be banished from your life immediately. The song’s gorgeous lilt and hushed delivery is worth the cost of the e.p. on its own, the fact that it comes surrounded by four other songs of equal mastery and marvel makes buying this the bargain of the century.
The Apple Falls is a fantastic slice of acoustic indie-folk, a blend of enticing harmonies and sweet melodies, The Midnight Romancer is lush, delicately upbeat and wonderfully reflective and Burned is a country-infused ballad of understated power and real poignancy. But the icing on the cake comes with the final song, Lullaby, which revels in some exquisite boy-girl harmonies recalling the finest moments of Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, which is about as high as praise gets in my book.
If a first release is the most important move on the part of an emerging artist, a calling card, a mission statement and a first impression all wrapped up in one sonic statement, then Buddy Taccolini can sleep sound in the knowledge that he passed that test with flying colours.