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Howie Beck - How To Fall Down In Public

Howie Beck, How To Fall Down In Public

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HOWIE Beck’s latest album may be provocatively entitled How To Fall Down In Public but the Toronto-based singer-songwriter has seldom stood so tall.

The album is an excellent collection of songs that explore some melancholy subjects in the most upbeat of fashions.

Throughout the nine songs, Beck enchants and holds you in his expert gaze… even managing to enchant with a disarmingly simple instrumental at one stage (Fin) that’s built around lush acoustic guitar licks and some fine piano chords.

But throughout Beck steals away our hearts and invites you into his thought-provoking existence.

Ironically, How To Fall Down In Public began a world away from Howie’s Toronto roots.

In July 2007, he touched down in Paris with his proverbial guitar and a notepad. Having toured Europe with Nada Surf and Josh Rouse in 2006, he’d been eager to return and this temporary exile in Paris changed his approach to music making.

No longer confined to his bedroom as on his previous three albums, Howie’s trademark introspection tilted outward. The music became more cinematic.

Fin is a classic case in point for how this broader, more ambitious scope wins you over. But it’s evident throughout.

Album opener Watch Out For The Fuzz drops a foot-stomping beat before opening into a lush, melodic chorus that’s shot through with upbeat acoustic guitar licks and the warning inherent in the song’s playful title.

Flashover just unfolds in delicious fashion – laidback, lush and evocative of classic Eagles, contemporary Turin Brakes and people like Elliott Smith and co.

Banjo strums and acoustics combine to pleasing effect on the melancholy Save Me, one of the longest offerings on the LP, while there’s a sense of defiance in the face of tragedy on the slow-building rocker Don’t Put Your Arms Around Me No More.

Elsewhere, there’s a wonderfully droll, laidback, ticking clock quality surrounding the stripped back If I Ever Come Home, while pianos take centre stage on the jazz-soul finale Beside This Life, which one can imagine was penned in a dusky Paris nightclub where the singer may have taken over the piano for a quick solo. The late inclusion of a boy-girl vocal trade off only makes it more seductive.

In short, Howie Back has created a bit of a classic with How To Fall Down in Public that you really ought not let pass you by.

Download picks: Flashover, Don’t Put Your Arms Around Me No More, Fin, If I Ever Come Home

Track listing:

  1. Watch Out For The Fuzz
  2. Flashover
  3. Save Me
  4. Don’t Put Your Arms Around Me No More
  5. Fin
  6. Over And Under
  7. La La La
  8. If I Ever Come Home
  9. Beside This Life