Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Christopher Rees

Artist Christopher Rees
Album Alone on a Mountain Top
Red Eye Music

After spending two and a half years recording and refining his d├ębut album the Sweetest Ache, Christopher Rees retreated to the mountains of mid Wales to record the antidote. His aim was to escape from all distractions and make an album completely alone in just a week. And this he did recording, playing and mixing every note in a 200 year old welsh cottage.

The album track-list is in the order the songs were recorded; apparently picked at random from a stock of over 40 songs. Sonically, Alone On A Mountain Top is a distant cousin to his bombastic, orchestrated debut. This time the songs sound raw and fresh, showing a love of roots and blues, the music of Jonny Cash and Townes Van Zandt.

The record does sound natural, Heartbeat was written the night he arrived at his country retreat, but like The Sweetest Ache, Christopher Ree’s style is very subjective. He doesn’t whisper when he can howl. Rees possesses a strong voice and likes to let it go at all times. If this is your thing, then that’s fine, but variety is the spice of life, and some songs sound a little forced, tying a little too hard to be epic.

His influences are everywhere, ‘The Will To Live' nods in the direction of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, ‘Hold Me Down' knocks on Leonard Cohen's door and ‘Hold Off Goodbye' recalls Bob Dylan's electric transition. Winner of the best Welsh male solo artist, he still has some way to go before he reaches his heroes. It would be interesting to hear the album if he worked on the songs for twice as long. It’s not a difficult second album, it’s a great experiment, reminiscent of REM’s New Adventures in Hi-fi, but deserves to be received a little better.

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