Charlie Barnes - More Stately Mansions
Recorded in Lincolnshire's Chapel Studios with former Oceansize guitarist Steve Durose at the helm, Charlie Barnes' debut LP More Stately Mansions is ambitious, polished and above all – curious. Hailing from Leeds, it seems Barnes has been quietly honing his skills under the radar for some years now but here he's joined by a fully fledged band, giving his penchant for gloomy, anthemic songwriting the dramatic elevation it deserves.
More Stately Mansions is littered with the kind of star-gazing vocal workouts that made Muse a household name but there's an admirable diversity to Barnes' approach. 'Sing to God' is armed to the teeth with forceful drumming and grandiose strings which perfectly line Barnes' emotive lyricism - “Hung up by the wrists / Perfect portrait of myself" - but how you take to the project overall will depend on how many times you can stomach gentle piano ballads followed up by theatrical outbursts of choral anguish. Imagine if Matt Bellamy hired Ed Harcourt to write him a solo album and you're more or less there. Much potential then, if an acquired taste.