Chris Blackwood is a Yorkshire-based singer songwriter. Despite this, he has been gigging primarily in the Manchester area, building a local reputation. Inspired by Pink Floyd, Elliot Smith, and The Beatles, he kickstarted his music career by releasing debut EP, ‘Freedom?’ in 2015. Primarily acoustic based, the EP was full of honesty, and integrity, with believable and relatable lyrics. Since then, he has brought in a backing band including Ben Robinson on drums and Dean Glover on bass. Blackwood’s self-titled debut album, produced by Glover was released last week. It’s a loose concept album, taking the listener on a journey through Blackwood’s life. It’s a captivating listen as his emotional vocal transports you into his thoughts.
The album opens with an intro, beginning the journey from exiting the womb and the early stages of infancy, featuring filtered guitars. ‘Time Will’ starts off with a feeling of insecurity “I never had the chance to say / will you see the light or will it lead you astray / And I don’t know what you expect me to say?” before transforming into a Britpop-esque riff. The track could be about a fear of growing up and a confusion of identity. The listener can hear the potential and Blackwood’s ear for melody, evidenced in both ‘Passing By’ and ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’. The former incorporates a chorus effect on the guitars, bringing out the dark atmosphere. It could be about Blackwood reminiscing about a town he grew up in, the lyrics setting the scene nicely. The latter track is a blueprint for how an upbeat indie rock song should be written, the summery guitars giving off a colourful vibe. The carefree attitude in the opening tracks shows the excitement of being young and learning new experiences.
A choppy interlude follows on to mark the halfway point of the album, bridging the gap between teenage years and adolescence. ‘The Quiet Elude’ shows a determined side to Blackwood, as he feels disillusioned with where he is at this point. The jangly guitars match the excitement as he attempts to push his way out of a pit.
The majority of the second half of the album takes a downbeat turn. Showing an introspective side to Blackwood, it’s these tracks that bring out a moody backdrop, casting a darker cloud on the album. On the acoustic ballad ‘Out the Window (Out the Door)’, the minimalist production coupled with Blackwood’s emotive vocals work perfectly. ‘Faraway’, easily the most emotional track on the album, is a summary and reflection on Blackwood’s life. Starting off with a meandering guitar riff that floats into space, the panning flanger brings things to a dramatic crescendo, making for a captivating finish.
There’s a lot of potential on this record, the diverse styles ensure that there is something here for everyone. In comparison to ‘Freedom?’ the inclusion of a full band has expanded Blackwood’s opportunities, enabling him to expand his sound pallet. Although it is his first album, Chris Blackwood is staking a claim that he is one to watch in the future.