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REVIEW – Catch Release: Asleep is a Friend of Mine

January 22, 2013 by Josh Forner

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From the very start of this long awaited EP from alt-folk outfit, Catch Release, the unique, deep vocal stylings of Tom Lee-Richards take hold. It doesn’t take long to decide, or indeed notice, that the production quality and hard work put into this album is being resonated and played right back at you.

Finding a genre for this EP goes out the window very quickly as you are immersed by a kaleidoscope of sound, drenched in a full, vibrant string-based background and an incredibly positioned brass arrangement. A feeling of excitement will bore over you as the first song, Motion Sickness, draws to a close and you await to see what is in store… it could go anywhere from here.

Out of Sight begins by extending Tom Lee Richards’ vocal capacity to the listener. The deepness becomes a softer, more inviting ‘call’ – perhaps with the hint of a whisper. A non-conventional drive begins to emerge from the brass and strings previously mentioned, which is all okay, because you discover that this is ‘unconventional’ (in relation to commercial pop releases) as soon as you read the track lengths once it is in your media system. Navin Gulavita effortlessly places his violin across the depth of the song whilst Tim Hannah’s french horn parts draw the darker and denser elements of the evolution of each track.

There’s a grand sense of ‘space’ to the recordings. Nothing is taking ‘ownership’ of any of the tracks which presents a balanced and well-rounded album. There is minimal use of layering and an eerily perfect arrangement which validates the spacial theory.

By the third song, Freedom is a Squeeze, we are introduced to a new vocalist; or so you would think. Some trademark Lee-Richards’ vibes are there, but there is a deliberate attempt to sing differently on this track, and it works a treat to keep you on your toes as we explored earlier.

Hand-percussion is used sporadically throughout the EP and is used to create a mood and build a particular emotion as it marries itself up with the lyrics and the stories on display. Bill Bate procures the tight percussive framework on the kit and the other drums he uses throughout Asleep is a Friend of Mine, and does so with relative ease.

Chasing Ideas is the song which features the title line of the album, and is one of Catch Release’s more “famous” incarnations as it begins with a rapidly repeated mouth percussion intro from the vocalist. Lee-Richards then reveals the voice he’s most known for and which captivated me upon my first experience with his songs – that which I relate very closely to Antony and The Johnsons vocalist, Antony Hegarty.

Here you are lead along a path to a sun-bathed garden, perhaps a formal setting, with people milling about on vast lawns and in the distance spot the suited band playing. It’s more than background music, and you realise it when you close your eyes and escape to this vision; everybody’s listening. Your attention needn’t be drawn elsewhere by this point of Catch Release’s… release. I should have probably lined that up a bit better.

Clear soul, blues & jazz influences begin to come to the forefront of the band’s sound through a prominent guitar and also through the more embossed bass from Keir Nicholson, all the while the violin and french horn combine brilliantly to bend the shape of each song back into an original and unique place which is the clear intention of this band’s existence.

Finally, Lee-Richards’ more pronounced roots of balladry and jazz come forth in the final track, Christmas in the Jungle. Those of you whom have seen Tom perform at his solo shows will know why I claim they are ‘more pronounced’, and are very noticeable in this ending track.

There is warmth in darkness. Catch Release have proved that with their EP, Asleep is a Friend of Mine. Dark tales and somewhat emotive recounts are balanced by a tonal warmth, and spacial depth and a classical arrangement. This is a real listener’s album. Take the time to hear it for yourself in your own company first. You will appreciate all I have written here only then.

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.

Author Details

Josh Forner

Josh Forner is a folk/pop songwriter from Melbourne, Australia and Virginia, USA. Forner was born in Melbourne on July 2 1988, and spent the first 18 months of his life there before moving with his parents to the town of Reston in Virginia, USA. At the age of 3, Forner and his mother returned to Melbourne, where he has stayed ever since.

Josh sings of love, primarily (wow, what a shock right?), but also on his list of ‘hot topics’ are politics, famine, poverty and - of course – landscapes: the folk writer’s favourite.

He’s played with some of Melbourne’s stalwarts including Timothy Cannon, Bridget Pross, Mr Brady, Pro Rata, Gabriel Lynch & Kyle Taylor, and has contributed two of his tracks to non-profit compilation CDs in the past.

Josh’s repertoire continues to grow. He released his first album, a 10-track LP entitled ‘Leading to Nowhere’ at The Workers Club on May 28th, 2013. Forner has since returned to the studio to begin work on a 5-track solo EP to be released by the end of 2013. Following that, he has plans for album number two in 2014.

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