Every so often you get an album through to review that kinda takes you by surprise. In Tyler Stensons case the surprise is that he is not a bigger name than he is. The singer songwriter from Portland is a well known face on the cities local music scene but Stenson comes equipped for bigger things. The music is simple yet mesmerisingly beautiful and the voice distinctive, full of warmth, expression and with an aching sorrow in it at times. I've never heard of Stenson before this album but he has been a productive boy with a clutch of albums and ep's before this release with some glowing reviews to boot.
The music is primarily acoustic and flirts with folk, Americana and bluegrass but it is none of these. Instead it takes on a pop element without being poppy. Confusing I know but suffice to say that the songwriting is of a quality that the like of Ryan Adams and Jackson Browne would struggle to match. This is beautiful, heartfelt and honest music that is performed with a conviction and passion that is simply irresistible.
Straight from the start you are in no doubt that you are listening to something very special. Opener Welcome The Change introduces a confident voice comfortable with intelligent lyrics that draw the listener in rather than patronising them and all set to a deceptively simple melody that is underpinned by driving acoustic guitar and flashes of mandolin. The Road is no less of a masterpiece, in fact there is nothing on this album for anyone to remotely dislike. The production is equally as impressive as the music, enveloping the whole album in a warm glow with space to allow the instrumentation to breath.
On an album of this quality it is hard to pick out individual tracks for praise but if pushed I would have to say that As The Crow Flies is a particular favourite. In fact I am struggling to think of when I have ever heard such a beautiful and mesmerising piece of music as this. It is a remarkable song and quite breathtaking.
This is by far one of the most accomplished and beautiful albums that I have ever heard and Tyler Stenson has produced something that he should be justifiably proud of. I seriously can't believe that this man is not a star as he has proved with this album that he is in every sense of the word. I can't recommend this album enough. Seriously.... buy it.