An adorable album cover on Eli Henry’s You Came Around sets the stage for gentle tracks that melt wonderfully into acoustic lullaby. The mix is a little low especially considering the nature of Henry’s sound and it buried elements in a distant fog while facilitating intermittent lyrical incoherence. That breathy vocal and stripped instrumentation has to still drive the bus somehow and too often it was left in neutral with no one to push. There’s a novelty to it all and Henry delivers passion within a blanketing theme of softness but on musical radar its signal is far too faint.
“Tired of Clementine” introduces a soothing character and tone that feels almost too easy but an album has peaks and valleys so why not start with one? However, I grew with concern that I might pass through this experience with very little pique. It’s inherently passive and shy. Almost every track wallows in a slow simmer that never takes boil or even bubbles.
“Ten Past Tomorrow” gives us a stronger sense of acoustic melody with less ambience and drifting vocals to cloud up the exposition. It was a welcome change in the grand scheme of things. To brighten the ending “Comedy” is a simple piano number that prances in a sixth octave arc. Somehow it still feels slightly dreary. It is hard to imagine this album without grey skies and slow rain.
You Came Around might just be too mellow for its own good. When certain ideas started to gel for me the song was over before it really began. I want to see this attention to restraint brought more into the upswing, peppered with dynamics and vocal range. The valley is lonely with nothing to look up to and Henry is highly capable of carving some moments to cast shadows upon the foundation he’s created.
The album is strong for what it’s worth, but I find it safe and unfinished. These songs deserve broadening textures and direction. And while it is self-acclaimed “unconventional” I don’t find that to be an explanation for the thin development. Nonetheless, it’s an exquisite canvas to build upon.
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