Ben Matravers - Step One

Owain Paciuszko 17/11/2010

Rating: 3/5

Twentysomething Matravers is currently studying Music Production at Leeds College of Music, Say representing the more overtly produced side of his music, which - at its heart - is singer/songwriter acoustic guitar driven folk-pop. With the licks of electric guitar, dreamy female backing vocals, and simple emotive song-writing, there's a distinct flavour of more recent Ed Harcourt tracks on this affable opener, which uses its embellishments with restraint and skill. Similarly, Blood On My Hands is a earnest piano-driven tune that is more of a showcase for Matraver's vocal, which at times exhibits range over emotion, where the delivery of the lyrics 'I don't know how you live with yourself' should be laced with more grit than technicality.

The title track is a richly arranged, brooding pop number, the grumbling The Cure-like drums contrasting nicely against wonky guitars and theatrically layered backing vocals; though Matraver's main vocal could do with a little more loosening up, but nevertheless this is a slight if effective number that takes tangents down some erratic and entertaining side roads. Closing tracks My Place Is Here is a stripped down ballad, with slightly hackneyed lyrics about mountaintops and trees, it's the weakest track on the record that wombles off into guitar noodlings and has the feel of a sunset-on-the-beach jam session that probably sounded great at the time because you were a bit stoned and sleepy. Nevertheless, it ends with some nice fizzy synths and closes the EP on a bittersweet if slightly underwelming note, especially in comparison to the bells and whistles of the previous track.

A neat little EP from an artist clearly at the start of his journey, there's a degree of experimentation on display as Matravers searches for his own voice and whilst there's a long way to go for him to really carve out his own personality this is a pretty good start.