Alex Valentine - Local History

Tim Miller 13/07/2005

Rating: 4/5

Alex Valentine comes into the public eye this August with his first full album Local History. Singer/songwriters are much the in thing at the moment, almost as common as the wealth of bland Britpop-esque bands making it big, but Valentine has a CD behind him that will stand him in good stead to break into the mainstream along with Rice, Blunt et al.
In fact, this 12-track album sees Valentine expanding the singer/songwriter genre with thicker textures applied to his songs. Acoustic guitars aplenty there may be, but more care has been taken with the rest of the arrangements: at one point programmed drums feature, strings layer on top of the melodies, cars drive past on Truckstop Diner.
Alex Valentine is gifted with the voice alone to attract attention. At the higher end of his range, Valentine is plaintive, while always restrained, and in his lower register his vocals are warm and rich. As a songwriter, there are standout tracks that highlight Valentine's talent: the sublime chord changes in Spinning Wheel and The One You Want, the gentle, mournful textures of Lovelost Letter Home and Did I Try Too Hard?, and the heart-achingly poignant harmonies on stunning single Sunshine. Lyrically, Alex Valentine excels on Truckstop Diner, with the story of a twisted relationship between a young boy and an older woman.
There are moments on the album which do pass you by, perhaps 12 songs is 1 or 2 too many, but the high points of this album, portraying the undoubted talent here, should be enough to see this album picked up on and critically acclaimed.

Single 'Sunshine' released 25th July
Album 'Local History' released 5th August.