Stylusboy - Fingerprint EP

Owain Paciuszko 08/09/2009

Rating: 4/5

With lead track OPEN instantly charming with its laidback, wistful, alt-country vibe this promises to be a fine, delicate, well-crafted EP from Coventry based singer-songwriter Stylusboy. Mixing a sense of melancholy akin to Aqualung with a sense of the melodic that recalls the lighter side of Ryan Adams. Aided by the presence of a few friends adding additional percussion, keys and sweet backing vocals by Rachel Grisedale, there's a warmth and richness abundant in this first track that manages to pluck you out of wherever you may be and drop you, snugly, into Stylusboy's world.

Jigsaw has a slow, steady beat and wisps of Tom McRae to the tender, tingling refrain of 'All your pieces, beautiful.' Recorded primarily in his lounge, with drums recorded in a local community centre, there's a handmade and personal touch to the songs, but not to the production value; which is impressive and indicative of great care to truly capture the soft, emotive sound of Stylusboy. As he sings 'This might just be so easy and perfect' on Stopclock you can't help but think it's a good comment on the effortless quality of this six-track itself.

Back to the Start sounds like Aidan Smith on a summery road-trip, lively guitar strumming and a buoyant bass-line causing involuntary toe-tapping. Meanwhile Roses and Love Hearts is a straight-forward pop song, with all the sappy, sincerity of the potential titular gifts; sure there's cliche there, but there's an honesty to his lyrics that may have the romantically minded planning its place on a Feb 14th mix CD. Whilst closing track A Song for Noah has a folk quality alongside its sentimental lyrics, it's a mix that manages to work well thanks to the conviction in Stylusboy's voice and the obvious connection (a rarity) between the singer and his words.

Stylusboy, over this neat nugget of an ep, manages to set his stall out excellently; a purveyor of wonderful melodic acoustic pop, that is filled with charm and genuine emotion in a way that one hopes earns him the kind of mainstream appreciation that is won, and undeserved, by the likes of Damien Rice and Jamie Cullum. As far as singer-songwriters go Stylusboy isn't doing anything new or daring, but he's doing - as he puts it on Roses and Love Hearts - 'something simple' but doing it excellently.