As a musician I have always been interested in the creative process surrounding an albums conception and composition, trying to understand, through the specific sonic and lyrical decisions made by an artist, what kind of message they want to convey to the listener through their music. In the case of Scott E Cooper this thought process is clear, stating on his website that the inspired direction behind the song arrangements for his new record centred around the underlining theme of “finding that spark in life to move forward”.
Hailing from the market town of Abingdon in Oxfordshire this is the bands third self-produced album entitled Homesick, released under their indie label Key 17 Records in December 2011. It consists of 11 tracks and was written after visiting the quiet seaside town of Bode in Cornwall that provided the springboard for their musical creativity. Identifying their sound as “acoustic indie folk” the band comprises of founder Scott who is the multi-instrumental and main vocalist in the ensemble, but who also enlists the help of his brother David ‘D.C’ who provides keyboard and backing vocals on the album.
‘Homesick’ is the title track to this new release and begins with soft arpeggiated acoustic guitar chords complimented well with a relaxed vocal style and subtle harmonies that create a pleasingly ambient musical texture. A deliberate lack of percussion and tranquil horns help make the song emotive and peaceful, emphasising the melancholy theme of being homesick very well indeed. An unusual electronic element is then subtly added which is quite unusual when juxtaposed against the more conventional instrument selection and lifts the track out of the ordinary. Other notable uses of production are apparent on ‘Free’ and ‘I’m With You’ using a combination of reverb, looped vocals and interesting synthesized effects that create an enjoyable texture.
An effective use of dynamics is used on ‘Sweet Nothing’, beginning with a gentle intro of reverse delay followed by a crashing of drums and dense accompaniment before diminishing again into the verse. As the song progresses the guitar melody builds with intensity as the notes get higher on the fret board, Scott simultaneously declaring that “It’s a long way down when were at the top” bringing the track to an emotional climax. It has a strong catchy chorus using a good repeating hook that is also emulated on the track ‘Best Of Me’, illustrating the fact that a simple melody is indeed the most memorable. ‘Broken Sleep’ and ‘Chant’ are both laid back recordings, quite slow in tempo with a soft guitar tone reminiscent in style of a stripped down snow patrol. Furthermore the guitar playing of ‘It’s The Simple Things’ is likened in style to acoustic renditions performed by Billy Joe Armstrong.
By far the strongest track on the album is ‘There You Go’ where the sophisticated fingerpicking acoustic guitar interweaves between the rhythmic and upbeat drum pattern that suggests the influence of singer-songwriter Paulo Nutini. However the vocals on tracks ‘The Waking Hours’ and ‘Beautiful Confessional’ are entirely unconvincing, seeming somewhat rough and unrehearsed that really let the overall professionalism of this record down. With its slightly predictable song structure and pastiche “play-it-safe” guitar playing this may not be a ground breaking album or 2012’s next big thing but Homesick’s charm is encapsulated by its simplicity and the emotional theme that inspired its creation. So if you’re feeling a bit down at home and want something easy to listen to in the background go and put this chilled acoustic folk record on, you never know it could be just the thing you need to brighten up your day.
Released on 12th December 2011 by Key 17 Records