First impressions. They're quite important. But they're also quite difficult. Especially when you're a singer with stagefreight.
Singer Ralph George struggles with stagefreight. According to his Bandcamp site for several years now. He used to be a singer that took classic rock-songs and turned them around to provide his listeneners with a complete new and frequently unrecognizable version. It allowed him to attrackt fans. It allowed him to establish a career in rock music.
Then the stagefreight hit him. He became a stay-at-home musician—in the likes of Nick Drake perhaps—and used the internet to contact his fans and communicate with them through songs.
However, early this year he announced he started working on an actual album—oposed to the (sometimes) weird covers he sang for his followers and friends on the internet—with self-written material. The recluse singer became the hardworking singer-songwriter.
This announcement probably shocked his many followers, because he now releases the E.P. In A Room With... A collection of songs by a variety of artists. And everything about this E.P. says: "this is me, but only in part."
As you expect, when it conserns a home-recording, the E.P. starts with tape-hizz. Which sets the tone of the entire collection. This is music recorded with a couple of befriended musicians on a saturdaynight, over a couple of beers.
His 70s approach, which he promises on his Bandcamp is truly met. Even though Mr. Brightside is a pretty recent hit for The Killers, Ralph's approach is most definately 70s: the grumpy guitar, the distant drum and synthesizer. And his voice sounds like it just walked out of a New Wave gig at CBGB's or something. And he sings it well. He sings it like it's fit for a TV talent show.
One Of Us introduces the acoustic guitar, semi-angelic background voices and some whispered secret messages at the beginning of the song. And while that's nice version of the song, Shut Up And Dance offers nothing new. In fact, this version stays so extremly close the original, it is in fact an obsolete song.
Suprising, however is the take on the U2 classic With Or Without You. This is nothing but voice and acoustic guitar. However, he does something with the pace. It sounds like the song you've heard a million times, but the sudden stopping and starting of the guitar, the pulling and pushing of the voice, turns it into something organic which tries to underline what it's like to live with or without someone. This is an intimate conversation between two people that ultimately leads to 'and you give yourself away'. And the guitar ends the conversation quite abruptly.
In A Room With... is not bad or lousy. It's just something a lot of artists put out there. It's the kind of album you play when you're in the middle of a garden party with friends. It's nice in the background, but it doesn't make you stop the conversation you're in at the very time.
However, it can be considered an introduction to Ralph George's voice. So you can get used to it before he releases his self-written material next year.