There’s no shortage of music falling into the Backseat Mafia mailbox from new male singer-songwriters. Ever since Ed Sheeran achieved world domination, there as been an influx of young male artists reaching for their guitars and trying to replicate the sound and success of their idol. And there’s a lot of talent out there, all snapping away at his heels. Acoustic music works for me on a chilled out Sunday afternoon, but what really excites me as a music writer is when I find something I can really get my teeth into. Something different, where each track has its own sound and vibe.
After a number of singles and EPs over the last few years, Yorkshire born electronic singer/songwriter and producer Web Sheldon brings out his debut long-player on Particle Zoo Recordings. As a production piece the album is an experimental collection of tracks, complete with crazy electronic sounds over the top of some pretty heavy beats. Whilst as a vocalist Sheldon has his own sound that ties the album together, it’s the beats that keep it fresh throughout, never sounding the same as the track that went before. But the word experimental is often associated with long, minimal pieces of work with little hook to get hold of. As a songwriter first, the majority of tracks feature pop hooks that lodge themselves in your head.
Clearly a lover of music, there are so many sounds and influences all together in one big melting pot. From the Trap beats of ‘Activate,’ the bouncy electro-pop ‘WEARENOW’ to the sophisti-pop album opener ‘Your Art is Imperfect.’ And then there’s the Asian vibes of ‘Mantra for the Lost’ (no relation to the Catatonia song of the same name). The spoken word vocals and chilled trip hop beats give it a vibe that wouldn’t be out of place on Tricky’s ‘Maxinquay’ or Massive Attack’s ‘Blue lines.’
Recording a cover always has its perils. There’s really only two ways you can go. You either stick as closely to the original and hope the fans of the original artist don’t mind it too much. Or you can rip it up, change the melody and entire feel of the song. It’s especially dangerous taking on huge, well known songs. On this album Web Sheldon has taken on one of the biggest hits by one of the world’s biggest stars: Madonna. Very brave. Whilst looking a the album notes, I hoped and prayed the song La is La Bonita wasn’t going to be this song, but with a title like that how could it be anything else? This version has gone down the latter route, changing the song as much as he dare, making something new out if a song that the whole world already knows. On the opening lines I wasn’t sure, but when the chorus kicks in and the song changes up, it comes into its own.
As a whole, ‘Fingerprints’ is an interesting collection of ideas from an original artist with a whole host of influences. It remains exciting all the way through right to the end, with no two tracks sounding alike. Web Sheldon is keeping us on our toes.
Fingerprints is out now.