Richmond – Byorn Gold (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If first impressions are important then first sonic impressions are vital. Catching the ear of the audience with a killer riff by way of an introduction is an art in its own right. Thankfully it is an art that Byorn Gold understands and as the chugging, urgent rhythms of Almost (Got That Girl) open up this four-track ep, quickly to be joined by a short, sharp and shockingly effective guitar motif, you are hooked. This is rock and roll boiled down to its very essence, immediate, effective and as groovesome as hell.

And if he just delivered three more tracks that followed a similar sonic path, then that would be good enough for most. But an ep has a pretty specific job to do. If a single is sort of a calling card or mission statement and an album allows an artist to display the full breadth of their creative, sonic spectrum, then an ep needs to be the bridge between the two. It needs to grab you and act as stepping stones through the key points of artist’s sound and style.

In this regard, Richmond works perfectly. From the low-slung rock and roll energy of the opener, Byorn Gold then heads into some more countrified territory with Not My Rainbow. A slow, Nashville groove deftly dances before us upon which he hangs heartfelt sentiments, gospel harmonies and shimmering guitar lines.

Things then take a more folky turn, Pluck Me seeming to take the 60’s folk revival as a reference point but then by adding some sonic weight and texture via clever guitar layers, threads of brooding strings, big beats and spiralling sonic crescendos it wanders engagingly between a baroque pop past and a modern indie sound.

Too Much, Too Little or Too Late rounds things off in funky style. Guitars gyrate and groove, basslines pop and pulsate, drums tumble and drive and the whole thing is so infectious that it will have even the most ardent wallflower “cutting a rug” and “throwing some shapes,” or whatever it is that the kids are saying these days, in no time.

It’s a cool collection of songs. One that wanders off in four different directions, explores four different aspects of Byorn Gold’s music and yet it still feels like a cohesive collection, easily identifiable as being the work of the same artist. And that’s how it’s done, isn’t it? You need to be adventurous but not too “out there.” Exploratory but grounded. You need to work with grace as well as groove, blur the lines between sound, style and genre. You need to sound fresh but also familiar. Richmond does all of this…and much more besides.

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