It is always great to be hit with surprises and unexpected pleasures and in many ways even more fun when it is in genres and styles of music one does not usually spend many days with. The new album from UK singer songwriter Rupert Stroud is such a release. Chasing The Night is an eager and mesmeric array of thirteen songs which please and share multiple satisfying moments with the ear and infectious musical excursions with the senses.
Chasing The Night is not quite a flawless album, the hold on the focus slipping as it reaches its latter stages though one suspects that is as much down to the play order of the songs as it is a diminish in the sharp creativity on display. Each song on the release holds its own to varying degrees and never let attention or the eagerness to stay within their call wander. It is an album that also offers great promise and firm indication that there is a one sure masterpiece within Stroud waiting to evolve. Saying that Chasing The Night is itself a fine and rewarding collection of songs that puts the majority of similar fuelled indie releases in the shade.
The album is the follow up to the self titled which first brought Stroud to the attention, but is a more mature and defined release. It brings a vibrant blend of light and dark, its warm inviting breath tinged with shadows and hidden corners that light up the senses and emotions. The great thing about it is the sound has a full and rounded body not the expected acoustic only presence and this is down to Stroud bringing in Mick Bedford on drums, Kate Peters with wonderful backing vocals, and even more importantly eminent British producer Will Jackson (The Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace, The Cribs, The Music) who also provided additional guitars and keys as well as backing vocals. Though the music is stripped down and uncluttered as one would imagine it has a rawness that pulsates throughout bringing a depth and character to the songs and one suspects that is as much down to Jackson as the artist himself.
Nothing is over complicated on the album but nor is it just a mix of obvious hooks and invitations. Throughout you get whiffs of familiarity from chords, riffs, and melodies but without a defined source which adds to the pleasure and fine spicery frequenting the release. The opening 40 Days & 40 Nights immediately brings the ear to attention with its micro drum roll and precise guitar teasing in the first few seconds. They step back for Stroud and acoustic to open up the tale before accompanying him on an eager and boisterous b even paced romp. The song takes you into its world with a sure touch and irresistible beckoning with the great voice of Peters adding a sirenesque lure behind the vocals of Stroud.
It is an impressive start followed by the electrified air of Forget You and the monotone hypnotic Take Your Time. Both songs are enjoyable and have energy within their frame that continues on from the first song but they take a step back compared to its compulsive energy. It is from this moment though that the album unleashes its heart and fullest might with a series of outstanding songs.
Hate To Say is the brightest jewel, a song that wraps around the emotions with a steely beauty and grace that feeds the fires within. Stroud comes over like a mix of Richard Ashcroft and Adrian Borland and it is immense with the incisive melodic grip of the song as captivating as the vocals. Its suggestive driven pulse which never finds its crescendo reminds of Pounding from Doves and just adds to the pleasure.
The equally impressive darkened Heard It All Before with a further stunning dual vocal blend of Stroud and Peters, the stirring almost primitive On The Run, and the pulsating shadowy No Love Lost which ignited passions once laid at the feet of The Sound, leave the heart throbbing with breathless excitement and deepest satisfaction. If with the opener these had made up an EP it would be there as a classic contender. That is not a comment on the rest of the album just how immense these particular songs are.
The album then changes back to the strong and enjoyable stance that the previously mentioned songs that followed 40 Days & 40 Nights brought. The likes of the unsurprising blues toned Sunday Night Blues, the excellent Hangover with its great boozy strings, and the unexpected and unpredictable Tears for Now which features vocalist Haydn Corrodus from London Hip Hop/Indie/Soul band The Stow, offer up a varied and enterprising continuation to the album. This particular song is imaginative and adventurous though whether it truly fits the album is debatable.
Chasing the Night is an excellent album with a heart of songs that stir up emotions and feelings like so few others manage. When a song brings a wave of strong emotion as it pleasures you know it is something special and there is a handful upon the album. Rupert Stroud has given the area of singer songwriters a new and impressive flavour.