Monday, August 5, 2019

Rupert Stroud, Along The Low, 2019

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

"The truth is when I wrote the song I was feeling very low," said Rupert Stroud about the title song from his fine and moody new album Along The Low.

But that could apply to almost any song on his new release. Like Dylan's Time Out of Mind, much of Along The Low is set in dark hues, even the love songs. It's not surprising given that Stroud is from the wilds of the Yorkshire moor and his home studio is in a converted water tower which sits high above the banks of the river Wharfe in The Yorkshire Dales.

Many of the songs on the album are recorded with sparse arrangements that feature acoustic guitar and piano. "Ghost" has a deceptively upbeat tune along with an eerie synth in the background. There’s also a piano in the chorus that doesn't steal the spotlight but only heightens the sense that the woman described in the song is not always where you think she's going to be.

There's a mix of cool sounds and rhythms on the album. "Only The Brave" has a prominent bass line and the synth bounces from speaker to speaker. "Along The Low" begins with only handclaps and slowly builds to a full band workout. "Believe" has some swell electric guitar off in the distance, and the bluesy riff of "On My Way" gives way to what sounds like a treated vocal in the chorus.

From the title, you would think that "Set Me Free" is about being asked to leave a relationship. Instead, it's a thank-you note to a partner. Stroud's dark molasses voice nearly coos as he sings, "I admire your spirit, your power, your grace / I applaud the way you put a smile on my face." His dark days are over. "And I felt like a prisoner / Until you set me free."

Along The Low is out now and available from your favorite digital vendor.

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