Reviews

Clea LlewellynClea Llewellyn
Album: Us Against The World
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.cleallewellyn.com

Hailing from Kent, Clea Llewellyn has collaborated, toured and performed with a variety of artists over the last ten years most notably with Jah Wobble (English Roots Band & Chinese Dub Orchestra) with whom she also co wrote a couple of songs.

Clea is an artist and a songwriter and she has been immersing herself in music for many years searching for her own sound. After a long wait, admittedly in her own words, a full 13 track album has been released titled Us Against The World. You can clearly tell that Clea has included many different types of music that has influenced her during the lead up to this album. There is an amalgam of sounds, instruments and styles weaving through every song. Every track needs a good couple of listens to take in everything that is happening but the more you listen the more you are captivated and drawn in especially by Clea’s very smooth, dreamy and effortless vocals. There are definitely strong hints of Macy Gray (Deepest Fear), Jem, and Dido in these songs.

Like A Toy uses sound effects very intelligently from the start such as a toy being wound up and at the end with an alarm clock and sci-fi sounds fading into the distance. You could easily find yourself inside a Pixar film listening to this one.

The album starts off with a dreamy and smoky feel but builds throughout with slightly faster paced songs such as the aptly titled Wake Up. In case the listener has completely chilled out into a meditative state up to this point, this song will get you right back to the present and even more so with Dance For Me where your toes will be tapping and head nodding.

It is difficult to choose a favourite track due to the vast array of sounds and the different instruments used. Every song offers something completely different and you can quite easily find yourself entranced. A good example of this would be Stay which could fit in quite well on a trance/chill-out Robert Miles album. Similarly the reggae sound of Bone Dry would sit nicely alongside any Bob Marley classic.

There is a fantastic assortment of instruments used on all the songs to create a fascinating kaleidoscope of sound. Piano, bass, keyboard, double bass, ukulele, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar are just some of the instruments used and performed by many musicians including the late Tim Cross (keyboardist and Musical Director for Mike Oldfield), Ben Jones, Pete Shaw and Jonathan Hurst (drums, percussion). Despite all the many sounds and instruments there is one that adds that little something extra and that is the trumpet as played by Luke Tunney. The way it is incorporated into the different songs reminds me of when the group James (from the 90's) used the trumpet similarly to great effect.

If I was to choose a couple of songs they would have to be Beautiful Better and the title track. They are both very atmospheric with sound effects that you could easily imagine being played as part of the soundtrack to a blockbuster film. Clea’s vocals are also at their clearest and emotional best on these songs. The passionate and heartfelt lyrics on many of the tracks paint pictures of somebody who is strong minded, who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid of portraying this in songs like Irrepairable and the title track. Despite some of the songs having powerful and emotive subjects they are cleverly presented in a contrasting mellow way.

Overall this is a very enjoyable debut album from Clea Llewellyn and it will be interesting to see which musical direction she follows from here. Will there be such a diverse variety of sounds and instruments? Will the music have a similar dreamy and chilled out vibe? Will there be aspects of this album or a move completely in another direction? One thing is for sure the next release will include a fantastic original vocal from Clea Llewellyn and a unique sound that stands out from the crowd.

Craig Parry