Seeing as any chancer with an acoustic guitar nowadays can be considered a star, it can be forgiven to be a little cynical about emerging singer-songwriters. Tyson Motsenbocker is the latest artist to be placed in the firing line with his debut full-length ‘Letters To Lost Loves’, an album that unfortunately hits many a cynical preconception pretty head-on.
First, the positives, and to be fair, there are a few – Motsenbocker himself has a nice voice, with its fluffy textures nestled inside the warm, folky indie-rock of the instrumentals. It can’t be ignored that he’s a decent songwriter as well, with the likes of ‘Evangeline’ coated in a fuzziness that acts like Andrew McMahon and The Rocket Summer have made their own.
But when words like ‘nice’ and ‘decent’ are the best ones to describe an album, you can hardly see it turning any heads. That’s pretty much ‘Letters To Lost Loves’ in a nutshell – it has its moments, but largely this is a plodding, sleepy collection of songs that don’t aim to make a connection, but rather float around and hope that something sticks.
‘Honest’ and ‘In Your Name’ have nothing memorable about them whatsoever, and for the most part any sort of instrumentation feels hackneyed or misused. Acoustic guitars seem to be strummed at random, especially on ‘House In The Hills’ and the muted, muffled drumbeat on ‘Can’t Come Home Again’ does literally nothing for the song.
A stronger grip on the basics of making an album is evidently what Tyson Motsenbocker needs to really get anywhere. A bit more focus and precision could have seen ‘Letters To Lost Loves’ become a City And Colour-style beauty, but it just ends up sounding like a B-rate James Bay. And that’s something no one wants to hear.
‘Letters To Lost Loves’ by Tyson Motsenbocker is out now on Tooth & Nail Records.
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Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)