David James Riley is a singer/songwriter based in Sheffield, England. He recently released a five-song EP called Riley that mostly revolves around acoustic guitar based music. This is a primarily a well-written folk album that showcases a technically proficient guitar play with an attractive voice.
I have to say I really enjoyed this EP but was pretty baffled by the first track “A Chance To Strike.” The first track sounds like a ‘70s classic rock song, which isn't indicative of the remaining four songs. If someone decides to start with the first track, which is the most likely scenario and it isn't their cup of tea they most likely won’t spin the remaining tracks. If that person even sort of enjoyed acoustic based folk song they are out of luck. “A Chance To Strike” isn’t a particularly bad song but isn’t on the caliber with the remaining four songs nor does it sound similar.
For me the EP starts with the impressive “Tom Dooley.” The song starts with beautiful chorale style harmonies before a lone acoustic guitar enters. Riley’s voice sounds natural, open and dynamic against his acoustic guitar. As the song progresses he adds handclaps and harmonica adding more of an Americana type feel. “These Four Walls” is another impressive acoustic based song. Riley’s voice sounds good with some melancholy behind. The chord progressions on the song have resemblance to early Zeppelin.
“Know I Do” combines an acoustic guitar with a spare piano melody. Riley really seems at home here and it comes across in the recording. Drums and a lead guitar enter and sound good in the mix. He closes with “Blood On The Blade,” which is arguably the highlight and in my opinion had the best vocal performance by Riley. His vocals are warm, heartfelt and pure. They resonate with the listener and instill a sense of nostalgia and reflection.
My advice to Riley is to stick with the acoustic based songs. He sounds at home with acoustic in his hands and at this stage the sound quality is much better coming through the speakers. Overall, Riley has some very impressive moments and a couple of songs that really stuck out. I will be revisiting “Know I Do” quite often.
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