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TENSHEDS Crazy Beautiful White Wail Records WWR006 (2010)


Looking not unlike a younger Eno, working under the stage name of Tensheds and unafraid to write songs full of emotion and meaning, Matt Millership is ideally positioned to being all things to all people. He's a confident balladeer, a multi instrumentalist and a deep song writer with a style of his own.

The aptly titled 'Crazy Beautiful' is an album that stands as a beacon of eloquent song writing, The key to the album's undoubted success is his ability to drag his lyrics over several stylistic hurdles without once sounding overstretched or out of his depth. On 'City of Dreams' he shifts from Dylan to a gravel voiced delivery and monetarily struggles to reach the height she sets himself, if only because unlike the following 'Road Movie', his vocals are curiously mixed back amongst some frenetic piano and bright tambourine. Sure there are moments that could have been improved. On the opening 'Go Out on the Weekend' he probably includes one verse too many, and on the country picking of 'Sentimental Feelings' the production is a tad too busy with a harp line that adds little to the basic motivating track.

But he's cute enough to pay attention to the ebb and flow of the songs, shifting quietly from the pop-rock brushed strokes of 'Angel of London' to the quite delicate string arrangement of 'Stains' and a beautiful duet with Aurora Schmidt on 'Love the One Your With'.

You suspect he's happiest with just voice and guitar (or perhaps piano) and the kind of heartfelt lyrics that make 'The Flying Cars' such an arresting song. And while Tensheds undoubtedly fits into the contemporary navel gazing, singer-song writing school of Ryan Adams meets David Gray, he's strictly his own person, if only because he's colourful lyrics are far too personal to be contrived. On 'Sell Another Soul' he surrounds his poetic bent with plucked strings and a sonorous violin line, but the song could just as easily have been a solo effort.

'Crazy Beautiful' is the work of an artist in progress. Tensheds is a singer song writer with real promise and if he can avoid the pitfalls of next big thing label, then perhaps Tensheds will cut yet more songs with the weight, the feel and the presence of the closing 'Paradise'. The echoey pedal steel, dreamy production and ringing acoustic, are the perfect backdrop for his best vocal performance on the album. In fact 'Paradise' is perfect finish to a uniquely wrought album by an artist excitingly discovering his own path.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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