Daniel Faulkner reviews the latest album from Coventry’s Stylusboy, Hospitality for Hope…
The acoustic scene in Coventry is a big deal. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there are nights popping up everywhere and some of the city’s finest talents are opting for a more simplistic and toned down approach to music.
Stylusboy is the collaboration of local lad, Steve Jones and northerner Rachel Grisedale.
It doesn’t take much investigation to see there is a serious work ethic to the duo. In the last few years they have amassed a huge collection of EP’s, garnered the support of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and shared stages with the likes of Newton Faulkner.
A collection of guitar rhythms with some subtle counter-melodies from the piano, folk stylings aplenty.
Stylusboy know a good hook when they hear it and the album is littered with infectious pop ideas. Be the First demonstrates this nicely with its piano arpeggios and repeated chorus.
Essentially though, Hospitality for Hope is acoustic driven and vocal – led. The guitar is played with a gentle ease across the album, Jones has a style that he is clearly comfortable with. Yet, it’s only when the duo move furthest from this format that album really begins to shine. They’re not scared of dynamics and some of the nicest moments belong to the parts that pull you in closest.
Chasing the Light is an intimate serenade with a pulsing motif that serves to set a mood, doing justice to some of the nicest lyrical ideas on the album.
There is a gorgeous bass sound captured on Staring at the Sky and it’s nice to hear the female vocals taking over the melody in the verses. Grisedale’s warmth is a nice counter to Jones’ more Erlend Øye (Whitest Boy Alive) approach.
The dual vocals on Hospitality for Hope are certainly what bring the unique-ness to the LP; the title track is definitely where this comes across strongest and with the most confidence.
The production ideas gradually garner more momentum as the album goes on, with some of the more exciting rhythms and bigger choruses only appearing later.
I would like to see more experimentation from the duo. There is clearly a lot of talent between the pair and there is potential to push things further.
You can stream the whole album here: www.stylusboy.co.uk/hope