For every few hundred singer-songwriters who thinks its enough to buy a wide-brimmed hat, grow a week’s stubble, slip into some black jeans with professionally distressed knees and rattle off a few James Bay inspired ballads, you come across people like Chris McEvoy who are really exploring what the format has to offer. The very term singer-songwriter might be a much maligned label these days but Be Still My Heart reminds us of classic writers such as John Martyn or Roy Harper who wove warm and sophisticated musical strands into exquisite albums.
And this is a sophisticated album, driven by the fact that Chris is not only a fashioner of great songs but also plays the part of his own accompanying band to perfection. Songs range from the gentle and the reflective Margerite (Faustine Lovers) with its emotive vibes and spacious nature to the groovesome blend of mandolins and pulsing basslines that is Blue Skies. Perfect Lie offers some lovely hooks, probably the most commercial cut to be found here and the opening salvo and title track is a brooding blend of tradition and new-folk.
The difference between Chris and the hordes of wannabes grabbing their gap-year guitar with an eye to appearing on Later With….is that whilst his music is commercial enough for the masses, that isn’t the purpose behind the songs. Their purpose is communication, emotion, expression, exploration and connection with the listener and everything found between that first opening note and final fading lyric is there to serve the song not the ego. And that is the reason why this music will get Chris noticed by the discerning crowd he deserves, not because it says, “hey look at me” but exactly because it doesn’t.