For You is available at:
RELEASED: March 2016
GENRES: Folk; Electro; Blues
The E.P., Siren’s Call, will be available soon.
The Half Moon
THIS is one of the last reviews I will be publishing…
before jumping back into the world of (full-time) work. Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed some great acts and artists: all doing their own thing and sticking in the mind. I am really pleased and hopeful as this year unfolds: the music coming out leads me to believe we will have a bumper year for quality musicians. I have been promoting the best female solo artists around: I have neglected the boys, to an extent. There is a good reason for this: I have always been a bigger fan of the girls (and their music). The way they do things- the range and confidence- has always made a bigger impression on me. That said: there are some great male solo artists emerging: those that can challenge and succeed the best (of the girls) around. Before I come to my featured artist; I want to talk more about male solo artists; the concept of the ‘one-man band’- finishing off with a bit about how to survive in the modern climate. If you look at any list of the ones-to-watch, you will always find the same thing: there are an awful lot of bands on there! In fact, it seems the media has forgotten about the solo artist, altogether. I get fed up of the heavy focus on bands: they are always put in the spotlight and given an unfair advantage. Publications like N.M.E. are pretty obsessed with the new groups coming through- their ‘tips’ for 2016 saw very few solo acts included. Time Out are a little less single-minded but have, instead, shifted their focus to female solo artists. They have highlighted some worthy new name: Alessia Cara, Kalis Uchis; Anne-Marie, Tinashe. Away from the mainstream-ready Pop stars: there are some great male solo stars pushing through. Moses Sumney and Majid Jordan are worth closer investigation. There seems to be some skittishness among the press currently. Perhaps addressing accusations of sexism- fewer women promoted compared with men- these so-called ‘best of’ lists are female-heavy. I definitely approve of the balance of opinion and addressment. I feel this open-mindedness has come at the expense of the male solo artist. Jack Garratt has gained a lot of praise, but apart from him, there are relatively few boys high on the list of critics. Maybe there is a lack of flair and originality (from the lads) but I think this is very narrow-minded and cliché. If you listen closely: there are waves of wonderful male artists putting colour and quality into new music. Richard Maule is one of those musicians happily working his way through the ranks. Supported by a dedicated, loyal fan-base: he is surely one of the artists to watch this year. I have heard tonnes of great female solo acts (this year) and it’s time for the boys- let’s start giving them a bit more support. Siren’s Call is an E.P. that proves what a proposition Maule is. The four-track release is available to the public and contains emotion, reflection and beauty. One of the reasons why the girls are starting to dominate is the subject of energy and passion. The music they play- the majority of the hotly-tipped acts- have punch, power and pizazz to their songs. Inventive and uplifting: positivity and uplift are very much in favour. Artists like Maule prefer more on tenderness and emotional depth. Perhaps there have been too many heart-on-sleeve solo artists- the need to switch the trend and embrace something more positive- but that would be remiss. There are some very boring and depressing male musicians who are incapable of grabbing attention and providing anything new and interesting. Richard Maule is one of those artists that is gentle and emotive but not at the expense of originality and appeal.
With every track- throughout Siren’s Call- you are drawn into the stunning music. That rich, chocolate-rich voice sucks you in- the songs make you think about your own life; turn the mirror and probe deep inside. At the end of the song(s) you are compelled to come back and listen again- not something you can say about a lot of (male) solo acts. Based out of London, the young musician is a force to be reckoned with. A lot of solo artists are backed by producers and musicians. These examples have the voice but need others to help: flesh out songs and play instruments for example. Maule is a man who is capable of covering all the bases. Not just restrained to acoustic guitar and voice- a combination that can cause people to sigh- there is a whole arsenal at his disposal. Electronic beats and soaring strings; layered vocals and charging guitar: all played at the same time (on stage) by our hero. Perhaps Jack Garratt is a notable comparison- when we think about the one-man band approach. While some have derided Garratt because of his lack of excitement- he is seen as rather placid and lifeless- you cannot say the same of Maule. I admire a musician that has that ability and desire: they do not need a band; they want to take control of their sound. Maule is not only one of the most multi-talented artists around but one of the most fascinating. Many male artists are tepid and insipid: Maule should be rubbing shoulders with the most-celebrated of 2016. Right now, he is making steps and working very hard. Appearances across local radio- he just featured on Soho Radio- and venues mean he’s getting his music out there. Siren’s Call is gathering attention and exposure: we are surely going to see more of the stunning Londoner. Too many musicians are ignorant to the demands of the music industry. They do not realise how much work is needed to succeed. Perhaps they expend too much energy and thought into the music itself- have very little left when the songs are out in the ether. There is so much competitiveness and variation available: no musician can take it easy and expect popularity to come find them. Richard Maule is a modern-day artist that works tirelessly to get his music to the people. Not only has a great deal of love and the self gone into Siren’s Call: Maule is ensuring he engages with fans and the media, constantly.
Esoteric Groove was Richard Maule’s last E.P. and gained a lot of respect and airplay. Aside from patronage from Radio 2- and Dermot O’Leary- it saw legions of supporters come his way. I Can’t Feel It combines rugged, rushing strings with echoed vocals. From there, you get a raw and heartfelt song that explodes through. Perhaps influenced by a rather rose-thorn lover- not being able to resist the temptation- that heart-pumping, fist-clenched anger builds up. It is a song that comes from a very personal place. The vocal remains controlled but is able to flow and contort- ensuring every lyric is brought fully to life. The title track has a softer, more tranquil opening. Punchy beats sit with light, breezy strings. What remains consistent is the smooth, soulful vocal from Maule. Given the meaning of Esoteric (adjective: intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialised knowledge or interest) you might think the song relates to Maule’s own sound. Perhaps Esoteric Groove is about a particular bond- a love story that is personal to him- and something more sexualised. Whatever the inspiration behind the song; it brims with nuance, urgency and fascination. Waiting on Me and How You See Me are heartfelt and stunning examples of Maule’s incredible songwriter. Not only do the songs display heartfelt sentiment and tenderness: they have varied compositions that will speak to every listener. What I find with Maule’s new work- For You and the remainder of Siren’s Call- is a step forward and slightly different approach. The vocal and lyrics have that mix of positivity and self-investigation. Perhaps (the new E.P.) has a more positive and uplifted approach: this is reflected in the compositions throughout. More bold and edgy than Esoteric Groove: the electronics are more insistent and raw; the beats tighter and more memorable. Even though (both creations) were created on an iPad: I find the brand-new music more atmospheric, emotive and well-produced. Maule has gained confidence and strength in the last few months. For You is perhaps the most memorable song yet from Richard Maule. Shades of James Blake- and his sensational debut-era songs- can be detected; more Electronica and Blues; less reliance on Folk. Fans of Maule’s music will see a consistency and familiar. All his key components are here and in-check. The new material will bring in new listeners- those who love their music deep and interesting- and sees a young musician that is improving and evolving. I can see the London-based wonder going onto big things in the coming years. There are so few artists like him- that have the consistency and quality- so he should brace himself for worldwide acclaim.
For You is Maule’s latest single- Siren’s Call’s title track has been shared on social media- and a glimpse into his 2016 oeuvre. A delicate, moody finger-picked guitar introduces the song to your ears. Within the introduction notes, you get images of moonlit confessions and lovers-in-arms strolls: 21st-century anxieties and old-days romance. When the hero approaches the microphone, his vocals are tenderly deployed. Words are stretched and expanded to create maximum emotion and effectiveness. It is hard comparing Richard Maule with anyone else- when you listen to that beautiful vocal. Influenced by everyone from Mumford and Sons and Damien Rice: neither artist comes to mind when you hear For You. The dark, whiskey-soaked voice has more in common with James Blake- someone who has been lauded because of his impactful vocals. Our man is willing to sacrifice himself and go to war: do whatever it takes (for) the girl. Previous Richard Maule tracks have shown a more direct and fast-paced vocal. Here, we get something much more awed and slowed-down. In fact- and given my James Blake comparisons- you get little shades of Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder. These titans might not be your first port-of-call- considering the style of music Maule plays- but there is gravitas and depth. Not your average man-with-an-idea musician: Maule digs into the soul and makes the listener think deeply. He could have fought battles and overcome obstacles: he is writing this song as a testament to love. Whilst this subject has been covered before- putting feelings into a song as a gift; using music as a way to profess admiration- he gives new spin and light to a much-trod area.
Knowing the origins of the song’s production- recorded on iPad and with that home-made/D.I.Y. approach- you can hear that earthiness and bare sound. It is as though we are sat in a room with Maule: right beside him as he lets his soul flow through the song. Given the live-sounding sparsity of the song- naked and revealing- the track becomes harder and more emotive. The beats come into play and the vocal starts to spark. Our hero unleashes a beautiful falsetto: enraptured and lost in the moment; that passion and devotion reach boiling point. The song’s title becomes an anthem in itself. Presenting those twin words with enraptured fever and sweat: For You reaches its emotional and spiritual climax. With devotion and pride at his heart; Maule lays out new professional and promises. Willing to wait for his sweetheart- for “all of time”- you know he means every word. Many songwriters employ hyperbole and ridiculous sentiments. Love songs are often filled with cloying lines and stereotypical rhymes. Richard Maule is a songwriter who breaks away from the worst instincts of his peers. For You is a very personal track whose lyrics have special meaning and relevance. Wanting to “Lift you up when you’re feeling sad”: the author provides a window into his relationship; the connection the duo has- the day-to-day struggles they face. I am not sure whether For You accounts a current relationship or something bygone. Whatever the circumstances behind the song, you are powerless to resist its potency and meaning. All these professions and promises- lifting her up and making the girl smile- are overlooked in favour of music. “Why didn’t I…?” is a line repeated mournfully and with regret. Maybe (our hero) is remiss to let his emotions out. Perhaps there is hesitation or problems between the two. Whatever the reason why- he is unable to give himself completely- music is his portal and way of getting his feelings out. Music-writing seems a more romantic and bolder gesture. Few humans are able to pen something beautiful and heartfelt. In a way; For You is a more fitting testament than action and words. What I love about the song is the mystery that lingers. I was wondering whether Maule was happy about things- writing a song rather than putting his words into action. For You is a hugely evocative song that mixes explosion with tenderness. By the closing stages- warped electronics and racing beats add urgency- you start to wonder and drill down to the nub of the song. It is a track you need to listen to again to understand its truths and depths.
Siren’s Call- and For You, for that matter- is the work of a D.I.Y. artist that is breaking new ground. Siren’s Call was recorded exclusively on the iPad. Maule’s previous E.P. was recorded in the same way: D.I.Y. musicians are turning to technology in order to record their music. Studio costs and the realities of recording are pricing artists out. I hear horror stories from musicians who always say the same thing: making music is becoming unbearable pricey. Too many promising artists are facing an immense hurdle right from the start. Because of the soaring studio bills; musicians are recording fewer songs and working themselves into the ground. Richard Maule is showing the alternative available. Not only can he record all his music on the iPad: he can mix and produce it; promote and share it from the same device! It might seem like a bit of a ‘cheat’ but I would disagree. Electronic/machine-created sounds are no less genuine and exciting than real instruments. Once upon a time, musicians made it into the studio because of merit: they had record label backing and money behind them. Because of that; they were free to record music with few pressures and financial demands. Today’s scene is an open market- everyone is free to put music out there- there are so many unsigned musicians who do not have the cachet and backing of labels. In turn, these artists are forced to either run themselves into the ground- to raise funds to get into the studio- or find alternatives. Electronically produced music makes me think of T.V. comedy. Studio-set, live-action sitcoms are reigned-in by budget. If you want to blow things up or travel around the world, it costs a lot of cash. The same logic cannot be applied to animation. Whatever is in your mind- whether you want to demolish a city or do something mind-bending- the cost is the same. Studio-produced music is the same as live-action comedy: you are limited to a certain extent. The iPad is to music what animation is to comedy. With the iPad- other tablets are available- you have an in-your-hand studio; there is no limit to creativity. I feel so many musicians are letting themselves down a bit. With the amount of contemporaries plying their trade: you cannot do what everyone else is; get lazy and phone it in. Technology is a portal that is providing opportunity, breadth and possibility. Richard Maule creates waves of sound and beautiful colours throughout Siren’s Call. You get so many different emotions and threads revealing themselves. The listener is treated to something magical and entrancing. If D.I.Y. music comes up with music this good; we should all be following the example of Maule. In three weeks; he will play The Half Moon in Putney- hopefully, I can make it there- and premiere his E.P.
Maybe soon- if I get the time in-between work- I will give Siren’s Call a thorough debriefing. For now- and with much excitement- For You is creating hope in me. I have been immersing myself in the best female-made music of this year. Bands have been under the microscope: I have been neglecting the solo males and what they are capable of. Too many are still stale and idea-less: replicating the acoustic guitar-led sound that offers little surprise and originality. Music will only succeed and grow if there is balance, originality and affordability. The sole male artists need to up their game somewhat and follow Richard Maule’s lead. If you can afford an iPad then you have an entire studio of tricks at your disposal. Unfortunately, studio-based music is becoming too expensive and unrealistic. If you want to produce E.P.s and albums, what do you do? The answer is right in front of us: embrace technology and do it all at a reasonable price. Dermot O’ Leary has played Maule’s music- Esoteric Groove was played last summer- and Wilderness Festival has played host to Maule’s unique brand of song. Not only has Richard Maule shown progress and potential- growing bigger and more assured with each release- but inspiring musicians coming through. I have affection for the girls and bands of 2016: we can’t overlook the boys and what they are doing. Maybe I have labored the point too much- I shall pick it back up another day- but Siren’s Call is an E.P. you need to listen to. I have written a few songs and am always stifled and balked by the money needed (so that they can be recorded). Technology is giving new musicians the opportunity to live their dreams and record what is in their heads- free from budgeting, scheduling and restrictions. For You will connect with anyone who has followed Maule’s career so far. It has that distinct sound that comes from a musician with few rivals. That deep, emotion-filled voice ensures every word provokes a reaction. While you dive into the voice and its layers; the composition compels the imagination and heart. When it comes to Richard Maule's incredible musical charge...
IT'S only just begun.
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