On his debut EP Palm Reader, San Diego musician Ben Limpic channels strong indie-pop vibes while filling out the basic singer-songwriter model with a full band sound that leans towards Southwestern and Americana stylings.
Palm Reader is a lovingly created effort. While quite brief with only four songs, each has been drawn up from Limpic's solo-acoustic guitar sets and lavishly embellished with a full band accompaniment. Bass, piano, drums and some synth lines fill the songs, adding depth and nuance without simply piling on instruments and tossing chords ad nauseam at the root riffs.
That said, at its heart the album is still rooted in singer-songwriter tradition with confident vocals and confessional lyrics at the front and center. The vocal delivery can err on the roots-y side of indie-acoustic music as of late, or even be mildly reminiscent of older acts like Neutral Milk Hotel. The lyrics are often simple, but effective, like on the track “Homesick” where Limpic sings, “how come I'm homesick when I'm home?” It's a no frills refrain, but a great and direct centerpiece for a song rooted around that feeling. The title track “Palm Reader” finds Limpic at his poppiest and features some of the best arrangements on the album with layered vocals filling out the background melody and emphasizing the choruses.
So, while the album might be anchored by a strong title track, there's not a lot of it—only three other songs. The songs themselves are hardly underdeveloped, but it would feel more like a solid piece of work if it were just filled out by another track or two rather than feeling like a glorified single. I suppose that's a good problem to have, as opposed to a listener not wanting to hear more of an album.
The production values on Palm Reader are high. The songs got the professional treatment at 20 West in Paso Robles, California, with mixing and mastering credits going to Tyler Tedeschi. It's evident that deft hands guided the always risky process of taking tried and true acoustic songs and building them into something without adding too much to their basic structure.
Ultimately, Palm Reader is an impressive first release. It will be interesting to see what kind of distinct sound Limpic pushes out of the studio once there's a slightly deeper pool of songs to sample from!
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