Dan Crisp - Far From Here
Owain Paciuszko 24/07/2009
Opening track Hollywood, on this debut album from Bournemouth born Crisp, will act as a barometer for how you feel about the rest of the record. It begins with a slightly atmospheric piano intro before hitting eject and plummeting into shimmery acoustic guitar, with Crisp's slightly Bryan Adams-lite vocals singing 'I'm watching life disappear to raise you up when no one else was here.', and I'm not really sure what that even means. It is a mid-water mark in the field of modern singer-songwriter acoustic pop and seems happy - across the following eleven tracks - to continue to tick all the boxes that a well produced, but insipid pop album would require.
There are little flourishes here and there; some interesting vocal production mid way through the otherwise wearisome Lighter Shade of Grey that sounds like a Jibba Jabber put through a wah-wah pedal; a Celtic influence on the backing arrangments in I Could Love Someone; some nice mandolin squirreled away on Find Yourself...
However there's stuff like Shine On Me that channels Nickelback via Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, if that sounds like a match made in Heaven then you'll probably feel differently about this record than I do. Poor Man Richer has the most unenthusiastic 'Woo!' over its opening guitar riff, and what should be a rowdier, rockier track feels inexcusably lazy.
Recently Alex Valentine managed to prove that the 'singer-songwriter' tag doesn't have to result in mawkish, sentimental, bland pop with his record A Short Album About Love, Valentine did nothing wild or experimental with that album, the songs just rang true. Which is precisely what is lacking on Crisp's debut; a sense of honesty or at least an emotional connection between his singing and his subject. There is a talent at work here, but there's the feeling that perhaps his songs are trying to fit a mold rather than finding their own shape.