If you were ever confused by the phrase “less is more,” give They Never Told You a spin and it will clear everything right up. Taken from the wonderfully titled The Cyclic Nature of Love album, it is essentially one voice, one piano and perhaps just as importantly, a brilliant and brave use of space. Space is often overlooked in musical arrangements but here it is wielded like an instrument in its own right.
The vocals rise and fall in wonderfully emotive dynamics and the piano is understated yet presents enough of a solid structure to keep the music out of the realms of ambient and inside the bastion of the minimalist pop ballad. But it is what is found between one chord and the next, lingering between the fade of a lyrical line and the intake of breath preparing for the one that follows which makes all the difference. It is here that small, opaque atmospherics form and bit-sized frissons of anticipation spark, all helping to soften edges, empower the upward sweeps or downward lulls of the music, and to act like the additional musician in the room.
Making music is often described as painting with musical hues on a blank canvas. And the lesson learned listening to Sean Hobbes is to always remember that you don’t have to completely cover the entire surface. Perhaps not even half of it!