Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Portia Graves - Red Brick Roads

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


UK artist Portia Graves has got most bases covered when it comes to music, and that's music as a whole, not just the rock/pop bracket. Firstly, she's a classical composer, something which must bring with it certain skills and knowledge that can be put to more widespread use. She admits to being interested in soundtracks and the relationship between audio and visual, and has composed for TV, film and even computer games. I guess in these austere times having such a broad range of options comes in handy. When it does come to the whole rock/pop type thing, well, she's not bad at that either.

Her latest album, 'Red Brick Roads', is what would best be described as cinematic pop with a dab or two of dreampop and soul. Mind you, you get the impression that if she wanted to hit the charts with some mainstream hits she could probably do that too. Everything about 'Red Brick Roads' comes across as being carefully considered, not in the writing process necessarily, but certainly in the arrangements and recording. I guess this comes with the territory. But where too much consideration can be the downfall of some records, it works excellently here. And if anyone's thinking that this attitude towards music is distasteful and unnatural, then stick 'Pet Sounds' on. Indie ethics need not always apply to great records.

Is 'Red Brick Roads' a great record? Perhaps not, yet it's certainly a very good one. On 'Secret Spaces' and the title-track we find two examples of everything clicking perfectly, in fact there's not really a low point here at all. 'Heart On Sleeve' is pure fantasy and an utter delight; the same could be said for 'Time Passes Us By' which builds into an even more beautiful piece; closer 'A Brave New World Glitter' is another gorgeous piece. It may be that it takes a few spins to get to grips with, but that's hardly a criticism. Overall this is a record devoid of imperfections and all the better for it. Where those one-take rough cuts can reap rewards in some cases, the faultless approach here results in something quite enchanting.







Portia Graves' website

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