The well-travelled Alex Seel is back with an EP follow up to 2015's Other Paths and the critically acclaimed Shifting Sands in 2013. Music may have led him from Devon, to London, to Ireland, and back to London again, but his travels have clearly bled back into his songs. Comparisons to the likes of Nick Drake and Bert Jansch certainly aren't too far from the mark, with his delicate finger picking style, and understated vocals.
Circles is an impressively varied EP, each of the songs different in feel to the rest. The title track is a gentle melodious with the intricate finger picking style right at the fore. The vocals here feel deliberately softened, allowing the song to meander along at a lighter pace which allows the beauty to shine through. Broken Faucet introduces Sam Winwood on drums and Matt Prime on keyboards, which leads to a fuller sound, but they act to highlight the guitar and the warm vocals of Seel, which is how it should be.
Poor Boy is a little more bluesy, and is one of the stronger songs on the CD. Seel's vocals are particularly unleashed in the chorus, which with the band backing him almost transforms this into a crowd friendly indie track. The Island is a great folk rock track, with a gentle poetic beauty to it, dream-like and ethereal. Curious Heart is a return to Circles solo style, which perfectly highlights the lyrics, and proves the comparisons with Drake are well founded.
The EP finishes with acoustic versions of Broken Faucet, Poor Boy and The Island. These are far from superfluous additions, each giving the listener a whole new perspective.
Circles is a wonderful EP, and proves that Alex Seel is an artist of considerable talent. The songs are perfectly crafted and full of warmth and intimate moments. This is a record well worth picking up.
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