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Jepson, Toby: Viewfinder

You may know him as a Little Angel, or indeed as a Wayward Son but there’s much more to the Toby Jepson story than just those two bands. Growing up in public with the UK album chart toppers Little Angels, when that band ceased to be, their singer, rhythm guitarist and chief songwriter initially offered us Toby And The Whole Truth (which was re-released in quite spectacular style not all that long ago). But with that venture ending in ill health, a truncated tour and release date mix ups, Jepson retreated from the limelight licking his wounds. However, a storyteller at heart, there was only so long that this composer could quiet his muse, although where to aim it became the next issue. Looking to broaden his straight up UK rock roots, Jepson seemingly scatter-bombed styles and ideas as he sought out his next move, but whether writing for fun, for others, or formulating new projects, the songs kept on coming. Between 2002 and 2013 Jepson also released five studio EPs, an album and curated his very own subscription led MP3 Club and it’s those releases that provide the backbone of Viewfinder, a 20 track compilation that shines a light on those ‘lost years’ between Little Angels and Jepson’s current and very successful band, Wayward Sons.

As you’d expect with that backstory, what this album offers is gently eclectic, but in reality, Jepson’s songwriting always has an unmistakable flavour that runs through it, allowing dreamy acoustic laments such as “Crush” to sound at home alongside the heavier push and shove of “Better Off Dead”, acoustic rabble rousing “Raising My Own Hell” or the honest “Dear Mama”. With Jepson’s unmistakably confident vocals also bringing together the seemingly disparate “Weight Of The World” and “Unwind”, if there’s one thing that becomes apparent as you make your way through Viewfinder it’s that Toby Jepson didn’t have any wilderness years, he simply didn’t have the promotion machine behind him to get these songs out to a wider audience.

For long term fans who already have this material, the opportunity to own what Jepson himself feels is the cream of the crop all together in one spot is tempting. However, what pushed me over the edge into buying this collection is the inclusion of four previously unreleased cuts, of which Jepson - who would appear to be his own toughest critic on their evidence - has written some insightful liner notes. All four are intriguing, with “Little Bird” a slightly psychedelic mid-paced delight, while “Overwhelming Me” is the sort of epic ballad that you could have imagined Robbie Williams taking to the top of the charts. With “Losing Side” almost sitting in show-tune mode, it really does illustrate how wide Jepson was, at one time, casting his net for inspiration. However the final piece, the spiralling “Picking Up The Pieces” is a real pop-rock masterpiece of catchy melodies and heart tugging themes.

Maybe not as angelic as he once made out but never as wayward as some might suggest, Toby Jepson was and remains a consummate songwriter and performer. The material contained on Viewfinder is too good to lie forgotten and while it shines different lights on this man’s musical career, it also illustrates that no matter his guise, the quality remains remarkably high.

Track Listing
1. Better Off Dead
2. Unwind
3. Back In The Day
4. Dear Mama
5. When Will We Learn
6. Viewfinder
7. Forgiveness
8. Happy Ever After
9. Motivated
10. Raising My Own Hell
11. Four Letter Word
12. Twisted Rhapsody
13. Crush (Original)
14. Weight Of The World
15. The Chosen One
16. Just No Way
17. Little Bird
18. Overwhelming Me
19. Losing Side
20. Picking Up The Pieces

Added: April 2nd 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Toby Jepson Official Website
Hits: 333
Language: english

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