Robbie Boyd - So Called Man (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING impressed with his singles thus far, Robbie Boyd now unveils his debut album, So Called Man, and comes of age nicely.
Produced and mixed by Tristan Ivemy (Frank Turner, Magic Numbers), the album draws on Boyd’s broad range of musical influences, and features 12 songs that are littered with ear-pleasing, often breezy melodies and wistful lyrics reminiscent of Passenger, with a post-Mumford twang.
Things kick off in endearing fashion with Orion’s Belt, a slow-builder that begins in wistful, contemplative fashion before dropping a hand-clap beat, foot-stomping percussion and a catchy chorus that echoes the likes of Jason Mraz. Instrumentally, it charms the pants off you.
Former single I Won’t Let You Go then follows and drops in that post-Mumford twang we’ve previously mentioned. It’s a record that’s steeped in an easy-going folk-pop sound, while reflecting fondly on the one you love. Lyrically, it’s full of optimism and hope, while the fiddle-strewn outro adds an extra layer of cool.
The folk vibe is also evident on the rollicking Spring Generation, which comes steeped in a retro quality and more adoring lyrics. It’s a sweet little charmer that underlines Boyd’s ability to deliver endearing tunes.
But the album is shot through with great songs. Another former single, Less Than Friends, is delivered with some brisk acoustic guitar licks and piano chords for backing, as well as a chorus that’s steeped in toe-tapping sensibilities.
Lyrically, however, it’s distinctly bittersweet as Boyd rues a relationship that never gets better than “more than less than friends” given that he’s been “waiting, waiting, waiting in the wings for you”, before ruing: “So much for our happy end.”
On Under My Skin, meanwhile, Boyd opens things up with a Coldplay-esque guitar riff before hitting you with stadium-sized choruses and another keen mix of big band sounds and troubadour qualities.
Brave echoes the brooding sound of both Turin Brakes as well as Ryan Adams and showcases a slightly grittier sound that’s also welcome, while I Want You To Stay is another track that’s alive with sing-along harmonies and sunshine positivity (instrumentally).
If he falters slightly on the album’s first ballad Amsterdam, he more than makes up for it during the slow-build epic finale that is Never Never Land (which ends the album on suitably impressive fashion).
And that’s not forgetting the nicely constructed Colours in Your Eyes, which once more showcases his ability to conjure an instantly ear-pleasing melody.
All in all, Boyd has created a memorable debut offering that charms, delights and looks poised to catapult him into the big leagues.
Download picks: Orion’s Belt, I Won’t Let You Go, Spring Generation, Less Than Friends, Under My Skin, Never Never Land