It is always a pleasure, and indeed, a fine moment of pride, to experience the sound of the UK and it’s brilliantly talented and thriving acoustic music scene. Derek King’s music is a superb example of the skill, the openness, the honesty, and the musical beauty that is alive and kicking throughout the nations smaller arenas.
This album, Sometimes, is one that will brighten up even the darkest of days. The title track alone is one to raise your spirits within just a few minutes of music. The track opens up with the gentle and organic sounding strum of an acoustic guitar, an optimistic and hopeful progression of chords, followed by a similarly joyful melody that really leaves those lyrics standing tall. Along with the occasional incoming slide of a distorted guitar, this song showcases all of the strength that organic music so naturally presents to the world.
As you progress through the album, you get to know the artist a little better, and the music moves away from the expected or the predictable, stepping confidently forwards into it’s own undeniable form of artistry. A Decade Full Of Dreams is a stunning song, the arrangement alone is one that creates such a vast and peaceful soundscape, and then you focus in on those lyrics, enhanced by the changing moments of melody throughout – it’s a wonderful piece of music loaded with some truly beautiful songwriting. The harmonies, the instrumentation, the overall context of the piece; it’s fantastic. The honesty shines brightly, and yet it’s not overly personal – the track is tremendously appropriate to any number of listeners. You can easily relate to these words and very quickly remember that melody line. It’s a pleasure that could only be topped by witnessing the song as part of a live performance.
To Be A Boy brings a little of that experimental folk rock into the picture. Simultaneously, this is the moment at which Derek King takes his storytelling to a whole new level; you really get lost in the tale here. The music is great, there’s a hint of classic rock in that opening riff, but every time you think you know where things will go, you’re quite swiftly proven wrong. The songs are all effective, well structured, and technically crafted in the way that any good song generally is, but there’s something unusual about it all. It’s difficult to pinpoint, and unnecessary, too – the whole thing sounds great, familiar, slightly, but completely new and impossible to predict. It’s a brilliant quality to have as an artist, and it keeps the album interesting and appealing, right the way through.
You get some real moments of emotion with the song Summer Rain; there’s a softness to the performance, a vulnerability that makes the artist comes across as explicitly human, and real. It’s a great moment. I May keeps things moving in this reflective and emotional direction. This mid section of the album is so gentle and raw that it really makes you feel welcome, safe, and comforted, as you sit back and witness the ideas unfolding. There are more than a few moments in which the music is so soft and minimalist, that you simply have to focus on those lyrics, and when you do, you find yourself really wondering about the lines and subsequently the world around you. It’s inspiring, and very cleverly created, so as to make you really pay attention at the right times.
Villainess brings a beautiful bit of blues rock to centre stage, but still in keeping with the sound and feel of Derek King’s music on the whole. The vocal style is familiar now; it’s comfortable, easy to listen to, reliable, trustworthy – you believe what he sings about, and if there’s advice involved, it’s almost impossible not to take it. Spirals And Circles is really well placed after this slightly rockier track. The gentleness returns, the beautifully tender guitar picking, the naked and vulnerable vocal performance.
Album arrangement is important, if you place too many softer songs next to one another, the impact is far less than it could be. In this case, the impact of these more emotional songs is greatly enhanced by the more upbeat ones that precede them. Beautiful Blue slides in just in time, and fortunately, there’s something hugely captivating about this piece. The notes chosen by the guitar playing, the way the vocal melody weaves in and out of it, the strings, the story – this is the kind of song that immediately grabs hold of your attention. It’s simplistic, at it’s core, but the output is immense.
Demons brings the mood sky high again, really creating a feeling of hopefulness and joy. The songwriter is so very open throughout, that the songs are instantly accessible to anyone who listens. The music is natural, organic; there’s nothing that has been added to the mix simply for the sake of filling it out, and this gives the overall sound a wonderful warmth. The Price Of Coal is one that moves your thoughts to a far more serious side of life. The song utilises that effect of simplistic music alongside deep and meaningful lyrical context, so you can’t help but listen and take it all in.
The imagery in this track in particular is quite intense, that storytelling, again, really brings it all out into the spotlight. It’s effective, as music, it really changes the way you feel and the way you think as you’re listening. This song is superb, actually – the guitar solo alone will send shivers down your spine. Creativity bursts into the scene in so many different ways, and never overwhelmingly so – just slightly, effectively, and memorably.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in the UK, Derek King performs regularly around the North of England and elsewhere. Head over to his Website to find out more about him. You can also keep up to date with the artist on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and take home the album by clicking through to Bandcamp. Check it all out and get involved.