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Richardson, John: The Fold

A well known name on the Finnish metal scene, John Richardson has decided to step out on his own with the debut solo offering, The Fold. He's a skilled songwriter and the arrangements put in play reveal a strong talent in that key direction too. Both aspects that prove vital in taking what could be best described as a downbeat selection of songs and maintaining their interest throughout.

While their approaches may be hugely different, there are parallels to be drawn between Richardson and the considered melancholy Tim Bowness portrays in his music, while early John Wesley, where an electric singer songwriter vibe comes through, is closer to the execution displayed on The Fold. The very fact that it's difficult to draw obvious comparisons are immediately a plus point for this album, everything from Tom Waits to Black, Porcupine Tree to Opeth hinted at, while nothing here actually sounds like any of those acts. Cliched this is not and yet The Fold has to catch you in the right frame of mind to truly take grip, even the positively jaunty strum and hum of "Open Page (Journey To Enceladus)", remaining purposefully restrained and dense in mood. It's the album's brightest moment, yet even here the smooth vocal delivery gives a dark edge that is in keeping with everything else you'll find.

Interesting little sections join the songs, spoken word passages, or a fire crackling and popping remove the silence and maintain the over all feel of the album in ways that many artists struggle to achieve. A train rumbles past, the rhythm it suggests taken up by the song itself on "Sanatorium", a darkly jazzy trumpet piercing the calm, yet somehow adding to the despair the song keenly thrives upon. Elsewhere "Tumbleweed Days" offers a little more excitement than its name suggests, but truth be told, not by much. The air of despair hanging just a touch too thickly round the cloying yet atmospheric approach. That it reappears in a reprise fashion later in the album, this time accompanied by faint bird song, does stretch the patience somewhat, even as it hits a near crescendo that the main song itself seldom hinted at. Unfortunately, the two short pieces that follow and close the album out, "Skin Gone Dry" and "Brushfire" seem to be more asides than songs and as such leave an unfair taste of an album running out of steam. Something that is all the mores a pity when the track these three pieces follow, "Riptide (Three Broken Screens)", through its lush backing vocals and soothing brass, rapidly becomes this album's most memorable offering.

John Richardson has possibly made the crease in The Fold too sharp, the album leaving me torn as to whether it's a collection of majestically dark thoughts, or just too deep and gloomy for its own good. However, taking into account that it's his first solo offering, there's no denying that there's more than enough here to leave you intrigued to find out what Richardson does next.

Track Listing
1. The Fold
2. Dawnsong
3. Birdman of Bognor
4. Tumbleweed Days
5. Sanatorium
6. Open Page (Journey to Enceladus)
7. Riptide (Three Broken Screens)
8. Tumbleweed Days (Reprise)
9. Skin Gone Dry
10. Brushfire

Added: May 7th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: John Richardson at Svart Records
Hits: 1248
Language: english

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