Album review by KevW
It's always painful to have to criticise an album by an artist who undoubtedly puts a lot of effort into their work, and is also likely to read your words, along with family, friends and fans. Yet this second album from Glasgow's Yusuf Azak doesn't have a great deal going for it. Granted, it does improve with repeat listens, but simply getting through those first few plays is painful, something I personally couldn't do. 'Go Native' isn't the worst album you'll ever hear, neither is it inept or comically bad. It's just unbearably average; and to make it average it sounds as though a lot of thought and care has been put into its creation.
Yusuf's voice is reasonably interesting, it's not your default singer-songwriter setting. The songs? Well you've heard worse, but it's difficult to describe any of these tracks as being particularly good. Competent maybe, but little more. Variation doesn't appear to be a word in Azak's vocabulary; this is eleven tracks of mid-paced strumming, none of which particularly goes anywhere. Go into any bar in the country and you'll find at least one bloke who's got a dozen of these. Individually it's possible to be mildly impressed, put them together and it becomes a struggle.
At a couple of points he comes close to hitting on something; 'Lay Me Down' sounds like a good demo, it would be great to see what a band and producer could turn it into. 'Sensitive Cell' could make a nice Simon & Garfunkel B-side - if it was recorded by them. 'Smile Tactics' is kind of like Bob Mould covering Nick Drake. It's no good though, I'm simply scraping around for compliments and struggling to find any. Still, this is just one person's opinion and I'm sure (well, there's a chance at least) that someone might find this album inspiring. The overall impression can be summed up in the final line sung on painfully dull closer; "is this where it ends? 'cos now I'm losing".
Yusuf Azak's website
Stream or buy the album
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