Volcano - Ed Vallance Album Review
Born in London but now residing in Brooklyn, songwriter Ed Vallance has previously issued the mini-album "The Modern Life" and an EP "The Summer Fire" and, as with the latter, producer Mark Ephraim has been drafted in to tart things up. If you haven't heard of Vallance before, this album might just change all that and while not completely faultless, "Volcano" is an accomplished 40 minutes that should appeal to anyone remotely interested in up-and-coming songwriting talent. He is truly an Englishman in New York.
So then, there are ten songs of an Aqualung-cum-Athlete-cum-Longview-cum-Squeeze nature, none of which will scare anyone off, most of which are worthy of being aired on radio or pumped out to modest audiences. Some of the songs date back to 2010 - "Black and White Light" was the lead-track on the aforementioned "Summer Fire" EP and it's a belter. Jam-packed with psychedelic organ and a proto-disco beat, it's easily the king of songs on this album, although the remaining trio of EP tracks, including the plaintive "Bookish" and catchy "Cowboys and Indians", are also up to the job. "Bookish" declares its creator as 'lord of the vernacular' and who am I to argue - he's also king of the subtle riff, as displayed on this and the rather moreish ""Into The Forest Fire". In fact I could just sit here and drivel on about how almost every track would make a great single - but I can't, because they probably won't, which is a shame.
With gently-chiselled features and a unique expressive voice, Vallance has more going for him than most of his ilk, with the only criticism I can muster being the running order. Perversely, "Famous Last Words" sounds like a starting track AND a closer, but the gradual build-up into its central core of epic proportions suggests it might have served better as a 'welcome' rather than a 'goodbye' - "Crystalline", the actual starter is a fine enough intro though, having been given the seal of approval by NME, a feat in itself.
Nit-picking aside, head to his website and squander your cash on this understated but poppy collection, without so much as a smidgeon of guilt or whiff of regret. Very good - a name to watch out for, check him out live.