Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Evening's Album: Stylusboy - Whole Picture (EP)

Stylusboy is the moniker for the Coventry based acoustic artist, Steve Jones. After playing guitar and bass for a variety of bands, he decided to set up shop as a solo artist with a more stripped down, folk-orientated sound. It seems as though this change in musical direction has really paid off, and his growth can be heard on each of his two previous EPs. However, it is with Whole Picture, we see an artist that has really found his sound. Released on Lazy Acre Records earlier this year, this is a truly accomplished collection of tracks.

Image courtesy of Stylusboy promo
The EP's title track, 'Whole Picture' kicks things off with its upbeat tempo and refined harmonies. Complete with backing Xylophone, it draws similarities with fellow folk artists The Boy Least Likely To. The EP continues with 'Beyond the Flags', which is one of Whole Picture's highlights, adding complexities in terms of both musicianship and lyrics. This is especially apparent withdynamic musical shift in the chorus, moving from the upbeat to the melancholic with the superb delivery of the line 'have I  finally found my home away from home'.
     'Left to Hide' has an air of Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly about it; featuring intricate finger picking guitar, a lush string section and rousing choruses. With 'Something Worth Keeping', Stylusboy returns to themes of the rest of the EP however lacking the urgency and direction that appears elsewhere.This is not to say that it's a bad song, taken individually, but the metronome drum beat does little to assist the cause and much like its subject matter this song is 'dragging its heels'. This is somewhat rectified in the track's more uplifting chorus; however, it still feels as though a change of pace was needed at this point of the EP. Which is exactly what we find in 'Gunfight at the OK Corral'. Opening with its chorus, the infectiously catchy lyric 'you and me we're on each other's side.... gunfight, gunfight, we might die tonight' is repeated to great effect. The re-introduction of the drums and xylophone, as well as a change in subject matter, add significantly to the track, making it one of the EP's most interesting songs.
    Whole Picture's closing track 'Dave's Song' is a track of true beauty and the most clear signal of Steve Jones' considerable talents. Here the music is stripped back giving the listener a chance to fully absorb his vocal strengths, which intertwine superbly with female vocalist Rachel Grisdale. This song encapsulates the feelings of grief and despair at the loss of a close friend, a subject which is covered with a touching maturity by Jones. The song ends with the lyric 'This is not the end, just the start from a different place'; I think this may be equally applicable for the artist himself. It's hard to keep a talent like this down, and we may well may be about to witness the start of bigger things for this exciting young musician.