• almost charlie A Different Kind of Here (CD, £10.95)

    Berlin singer / multi-instrumentalist Dirk Homuth and New York City lyricist Charlie Mason have teamed up to pen twelve new songs brimming with impossibly elegant hooks, poignant imagery, and enduring melodies that flirt with The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. A Different Kind of Here is infused with an unmistakable flair and cohesiveness that belies the fact that this uniquely 21st Century transatlantic songwriting team have never met. The hushed opening acoustic strains of "Shadow Boy" quietly launch the record by showcasing Homuth's understated voice, with simple strikes of the glockenspiel punctuating his melodic gifts. A string quartet escorts the 3/4-metered "Ambivalent" - an affectionate nod to Elliott Smith in which Homuth directs a captivatingly waltz that spells the frustrations of an indecisive object of one's affections. Homuth's unfailing affinity for tunefulness seamlessly blends the album's assortment of sonic textures, from the carnivalesque Sgt. Pepper-meets-Westworld imaginings of "Robot" to the gentle, piano-guided interlude "Sunset On Elysian Fields" that evokes mid-period Felt. Duskier undercurrents percolate through the record, such as in "The Loneliness of Sharks" - one of several compositions that begin deceptively spare but blossom into orchestral-laden gems, making A Different Kind of Here another sophisticated, chamber pop masterpiece from one of the most intriguing songwriting teams in independent music. Signposts: The Beatles, Kings of Convenience, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake.

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