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Clarkesville - The Half Chapter

Review: Jack Foley

THE book on Michael Clarke, aka Clarkesville, already makes for interesting reading.

A songwriter since the age of 14, after spending his formative years with his parents in Amsterdam, Clarke then methodically charted a career path for himself, which involved not falling into the pitfalls of easy success.

Hence, he completed his A-levels and played a number of solo acoustic gigs to hone his skills, before turning up at the offices of Wildstar armed with an acoustic guitar and plenty of attitude.

Now, aged 22, the tall, blonde singer/songwriter has teamed up with Swedish producer, Martin Terefe (who has worked with Ron Sexsmith and Kings of Leon), for his debut album; having also attracted the attention of Travis when he did a gig at the Enterprise Club, in Primrose Hill.

In fact, Travis drummer, Neil Primrose, appears on the album - such is the impression that Clarke made.

The resulting album is a pleasant mix of guitars and drums, with electronic sounds, that is headed up by a strong vocal performer.

Think Neil Finn, or Bob Dylan, and you might get some idea of what to expect from the singing - particularly as Clarke readily cites them as key influences, along with the Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, The Flaming Lips, and Beck.

Hence, almost every track contains a catchy hook, some frivolous melodies and a strong set of vocals that mark a compelling opening chapter in this young musician's fledgling career.

The stand-out tracks include the debut single, Secret File, a tuneful, effortlessly catchy pop record that possesses the requisite feelgood chorus, or the Tom Petty inspired Spinning, with its terrific guitar riffs and Dylan-esque vocals.

The gentle, acoustic-based Reprise is another excellent track, packed with sweet lyrics, such as 'If I could go where I please, I would sail your Summer seas, Catchy my breath on your breeze, Just to know your reprise'. It is here that the Crowded House feel re-surfaces and is a brilliant track for chilling out.

Likewise, Last Man Standing, which really wouldn't sound out of place on a Neil Finn album, with its enticing mix of snare drums and background guitars.

The Half Chapter may ultimately lack the punch needed to mark it out as a true classic, but you will struggle to find a bad track on it. That alone, makes the next chapter in Clarkesville's musical journey one worth looking forward to.


Track listing:
1. Evergreen
2. Heavy Soul
3. Secret File
4. Everyone Will Have Their Day
5. Someday
6. Spinning
7. Moonflowers
8. Reprise
9. Last Man Standing
10. Just Kills Me

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