En Route, the second album from singer/songwriter Cameron Blake, is a refreshingly unique masterpiece. Although the Baltimore musician has his master’s in violin performance, he is clearly a man of many talents. With fantastic orchestrations from the young musician, the album will take you on a journey paved not only with violin, but beautiful vocals, piano, harmonica, cello, and acoustic guitar, to name a few. In the beginning of your listening experience, you may find yourself struggling to pin him down under one genre. The album is a smooth combination of acoustic, pop, blues, and largely folk sound. It would do him an injustice to not give him credit for his wide range of appeal. Let’s just label him as this: “talented.”
It’s hard to compare Blake to any one other artist, but fans of everyone from Dave Matthews to The Swell Season will surely enjoy this record. The album opens with “This is All,” a track that instantly makes you feel like you are listening to a rebellious poet in the bottom of a dark jazz club. Farther along on the record is “On the Way to Jordan,” which is more than suitable for a pub set in the heart of Dublin. A favorite is “Interlude,” a slower-paced song that would be fantastic on the soundtrack of an indie flick. The piano and delicate harmonies will chill you to the bone in the same way as the painfully beautiful songs written by Damien Rice.
Blake provides fascinating vocals through out the album, sometimes emanating a similar sound to Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie. There is a pleasant clarity in his vocals that allows the listener to enjoy his unique lyrics. In “Lonely Rooms” he writes, “I held her marigold smile-apple scent rain through slanting silver-lines/ I am the prince and the fool-survived by a breath, a thread, a single room.” Pure poetry.
If you decide to check out one independent artist this year, make sure it’s Cameron Blake. With excellent musicianship, thoughtful writing, and exceptional vocals, you won’t be disappointed.
Looking for some indie pop with lush harmonies and a bright sound? Then you’ve come to the right place. The Beechfields, a record label based in Baltimore, Maryland, released The Seldon Plan’s third full-length album earlier this month.
The Seldon Plan’s Lost and Found and Lost is a showcase of melodies easy for the listener to pick up on and enjoy. The album’s opener, “Caldecott,” has punchy verses that lead up perfectly to the slower (but no less catchy) chorus.
The group consists of four members, two of which both provide vocals and play guitar. What is interesting, though, is that one of these singer/guitarists is Dawn Dineen, and her presence adds a lot to the harmonies. The songs that feature her singing lead vocals, like “Fire in Day’s Field,” “Run, Go!” and “See a Word” add a unique aspect to The Seldon Plan’s indie pop. Dineen also has a lower voice than a lot of female singers, and it is steady and easy to listen to.
The only real weakness of Lost and Found and Lost is that some of the songs (“See a Word”) can get a little repetitive, with choruses that are played over again without making any musical changes a few too many times. But this can easily be forgiven because despite the fact that this can get a little annoying, most of the choruses on this album are gosh-darn catchy.
Some of the standout songs on this album are the title track and “Philadelphia and a Moment.” “Lost and Found and Lost” (which is a very cool name, if you ask me) includes irresistible, snappy hand claps (or percussion that at least sounds like hand claps) and a fun keyboard line. “Philadelphia and a Moment” is a bit of an acoustic ballad that picks up the pace and changes toward the middle. Its unique instrumentation, which includes wind instruments, gives “Philadelphia and a Moment” a full feel that nonetheless seems intimate.
The group describes the album’s themes as a story of “expectant hope and recession blues.” The Seldon Plan’s Lost and Found and Lost is recommended for fans of Death Cab for Cutie and The New Pornographers.