Bela - Hole and Corner
This album has been sitting atop my CD player awaiting judgement for quite a while, and I've played it a number of times. However, the reason it's taken so long to conjure up a verdict is because I haven't really known what to say about it. Now, this isn't to say it's bad at all. Samey and a bit sparse for my liking, sure, but not bad.
Bela, descending from Iceland and relocated in Glasgow, is a craftsman of the type of songs which fill out the back ends of those 'Best of Acoustic' albums that are tenapenny nowadays. Comparisons have been made with the likes of John Martyn and Kings of Convenience, neither of whom are known for a highly experimental sound. They trade in the same summery and quite genteel soundtrack-for-soul-searching numbers that Bela does. And this album is very pleasant to the ears, it has to be said. The only problem, and it's quite a big one considering, is that the tracks aren't distinguishable from each other. They all conform to the same three-and-a-half minutes' of fragile acoustics rule. The fact that Bela's voice has the ability to hypnotise, sounding like a cross between John Mayer and Joseph Arthur, saves the day but nothing can detract from the fact that the twelve songs here blend into one another a little too much. Maybe I'm missing the subtleties that separate the tracks but, around the middle mark, I always feel like sticking on a dance compilation to shake things up a bit.
There's not much else to say. A track-by-track account is impossible due to fear of repetition. Nice vocals, nice melodies, nice production; that's the fullest review I can give, with 'nice' being the only adjective I can think of to do the material justice. As I say, this isn't a bad album whatsoever, it just doesn't offer anything particularly new to its genre. Oh, and the influence of Nick Drake is felt a bit too much throughout - 'plagiarism' might be a word to throw in here to accompany 'nice'. However, this guy's still better than Jose Gonzales. For something a tad more interesting though, go with the new Damien Rice record.