Out of the Blue by Norman WouldRelease date: September 20, 2017
Norman Would, but can he? On the evidence of his Out of the Blue album, the answer is – yes! These days we are getting quite accustomed that the Americana inflected singer/songwriters can come from anywhere in the world, so why would Paris, France, be an exception?
No reason it should and Norman Would proves it. What you notice first when you play this, mostly gentle-toned album (with notable exceptions) is Would’s voice that is quite reminiscent and on the span of the trio Mark Lanegan, Duke Garwood, Howe Gelb. And yes, so is the music. But what makes things interesting are some quite intricate arrangements, predominantly strings ( like the cello on the brilliant opener ‘Mirrors’) or brass on the title tune.
Certainly Would and his producer Joshua Hudes had a lot to do with it, but you can bet that quite a bit of that goes to the mastering by a studio ‘master’ Kramer of the Low and Galaxie 500 fame, among others.
With albums such as Out of the Blue there is always a danger that the proceedings can turn out to be “sameish”, but Would escapes that trap not only by his voice and arrangements, but some accomplished compositional skills where even mostly solo tunes like ‘Said and done’ keep the interest of the listener. But then he also mixes the things up a bit, like on ‘Hologram’, and ‘In a mile’ where the Lanegan shadow looms the strongest, but exactly to the right effect.
Still, it is that intimacy atmosphere that drives the music on the album the best, like on ‘If you were to find me’ and ‘Gone to waste’. Everything sounds quite well thought out, each and every time the right tonality and instruments are accentuated, particularly Would’s excellent acoustic and electric guitar work. Also, Would makes sure that none of the songs outstay their welcome, giving each of the tunes enough time to tell their story and then gently dissipate.
With all the influences to be detected on Out of the Blue, Would came with quite a refreshing album that deserves quite a few repeated listens.