Chailo Sim - Replete

Bill Cummings 31/01/2011

Rating: 4/5

I took a walk through the park earlier on, enjoying the crisp cold Sunday afternoon, embellished by the first brush of bright sunshine of this year's spring, starring into the middle distance contemplating relationships and a childhood past. Pembrokeshire alt-folk five piece Chailo Sim's fine debut album “Replete' provided the soundtrack to my walk. A gorgeously uncluttered long player, of subtlety strummed tunes garnished by elegant homespun instrumentation, gentle piano, and pared back strings that fits together as snugly and comfortingly as that old sweater that makes your upper body feel just so. While lead songwriter, singer and guitarist Nayfe SJ provides vocals that set this set apart, his healing, crumbled up timbre remind one occasionally of the 70s work of the late great folk legend John Martyn and the next track the at the end of the night soul of Curtis Mayfield.

Opener and one of the obvious highlights 'Latch' sets the tone that burnishes this debut long player throughout its nine tracks. Detailing the first flush of finally finding love through the prism of Nayfe's effortless lovelorn vocals against the backdrop of a delicately swaying composition that rises and fall like turning tides. From a strum that climbs the stares, to piano notes that mark your feet in the sand, to Matt Badger's cymbal brushes, each note woven into a subtle, ornate pattern.

The even quieter moments are arguable the best from the gentle melancholia of 'Relief' a simple yet highly effective guitar arpeggio washes like running water over a when relationship interaction is thrown into sharp focus through a gentle hand on the shoulder ('every moment I try to share with you/I see a little light.') The effortless plucking of 'My Old Friend' are pleasantly reminiscent of Nick Drake, but take a turn into life affirming in their second two minutes, when bluesy riffs hove into view above yonder red sky.

'Calm' is one of my personal highlights, a reflective rumination that arcs on Nayfe's climbing falscetto that manages to be both self reflective and life affirming at the same time and illuminated by Tom Ludd's mournful trumpet motif. 'Calm' is a beautiful piece of music, vaguely comparable with the intimacy possed by likes of Iron & Wine and Bon Iver, but retains the humble spirit of a friend asking another for an exit route out of a painful situation.

While “Homerun' is a largely instrumental piece, when the hand of the first minute's lullaby gradually lets go, it shows off Chilo Sim's deep love of flexing every instrumental muscle and nudging them into place to create a delicately rendered whole. “Older' is typical of the other side of 'Replete' a shuffling groove given life by Andy Holcroft's sighing violins, toe tapping bluesy licks and a Darren Gibbs' hammond organ that remains in the background throughout.

Chailo Sim's 'Replete' is an immense achievement, a subtle awe inspiring record that carves itself a place in your heart, through its sheer sparsity and clarity of vision from the simple straightforward song titles to the warm vocals full of throbbing heart, and gloriously modest instrumentation and proves once again that overproduction or the need for a expensive producer is often over stated. When simple songs like these are brought to life, by the care and attention of the players involved then the quality of the songs on an album like 'Replete' are allowed to shine through.