The Cess Allan Band - Stay Inside

Owain Paciuszko 28/07/2009

Rating: 3/5

With a tiny choir of voices singing over a jolly set of hand-claps, lead track Stanford is kind of deceptively chirpy and remains wonkily light throughout, it's brightly strummed acoustic guitar contrasting nicely with the scratched throat vocals of Nicholas Read (who wrote and performed everything bar trumpet and additional vox on this EP). It stands on a high-wire balancing between indie-pop and blues-rock, sort of what Bruce Springsteen might be like if he were a 21st century kid recording tunes in his bedroom.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being switches gears into shouty London territory, with a sniff of the Billy Bragg to Read's vocal delivery, whilst elsewhere retaining a softer touch. The track itself musically makes good use of Sam Morton's trumpet to create something raggedy and optimistic as Read repeats; 'I never knew what outside was offering, now we've gone too far.'

The start of "Casablanca" casts uneasy memories of Nizlopi, but is far less gimmicky lyrically than The JCB Song. It's a quieter moment with processed drums and a rather sweet keyboard line, Read reining in his vocals and bringing honesty and emotion to lyrics like; 'Maybe it's best I get shot of you.' The song reaches an uplifting close with the onslaught of electric guitars, echoing vocals and a vocal sample, before leaving as it entered.

Perhaps a little too slight to really grab ahold on first listen, this three-track EP from the highly talented Read is nevertheless a very well made little effort and, if this level of invetion and re-invention is sustained on future releases, could herald a bright future.