The world is an increasingly complex place and nowhere more so than the world of music. It is a place of byzantine machinations, style over substance, commerciality and fickle, fashion friendly formula. But it doesn’t have to be and that is the message that looms large over Rob’s first full-length album. Music can be at it’s most effective when it is stripped down to its more simplistic forms and as a result Parkas and Boots is an album filled with space and the confident simplicity that comes from total belief in the strength of your own songs.
Taking a leaf out of the books of the likes of Glen Hansard and Damien Rice (who he now sits quite serendipitously next to in my record collection,) Rob delivers lyrics forged from personal narratives, memories and world views which dance eloquently and elegantly over the most effective of tunes. Effective because there is no extraneous musical flesh to be found, he knows what the basic requirements are for each song, be it the lilting pop-balladry of Mississippi or the beautiful and almost intangible structure of Glorious, and is never drawn into the age-old trap of overloading the song just because the studio offers so many options.
It is this musical elbow-room that he allows himself that means that the textures of the songs reveal themselves through the gaps in the top line melodies. Here a wonderfully concise bass run pulses through, a sumptuous string-wash passes by just on the edge of hearing or more often than not the spaces are filled with atmosphere and anticipation, a tool as powerful as any clever riff or fancy drum fill (take note kids.)
But more than anything it is honest. It is an open letter from someone who has found his calling to the world that continues to inspire him and in this day and age that is something as unexpected as it is to be admired.