After being a part of several ska, reggae and funk bands, Sean Gaffney released The Story of How We Lose Control, his debut solo album. Although Sean, hailing from Shropshire, UK is primarily an acoustic performer, the album utilizes a full spectrum of musical instruments, creating an extensive soundscape that layers around Gaffney’s smooth voice.
Beginning with “Chalk on a Wall,” Gaffney’s style is reminiscent of soulful pop music such as that from Jason Mraz, and his straightforward approach to singing is refreshing. He does not oversaturate his lyrics with excessive emotion, but he varies his sound just enough to prevent monotony. “What It Is”, built around a catchy acoustic guitar riff and melodic harmonies, leads nicely into the danceable “No Need to Sleep”, a carefree, bright tune.
The predominantly acoustic sound of the album makes a transition to incorporate electronic influences in “Don’t Take Me Higher,” a slightly darker approach to a classic fusion framework and arguably the best song on the record. The playful nature of Gaffney’s songwriting makes itself clear in “I Need a Shower,” a candid groovy song revolving around acoustic instrumentation and wordplay.
The emotional dynamics of the album continue to ebb and flow through “Three Heartbeats” and “Heroes Back to Humans,” then Gaffney displays his skill and dexterity on guitar throughout “Interlude” and “The Gambler,” where fingerpicking underlies wistful lyrics within a tense, yet hopeful, atmosphere. The album concludes with three similarly interesting songs, perhaps the most intriguingly titled being “Christ and Science,” which pairs beautiful guitar with strict synthesized drum tracks among a host of instruments that combine in a carefully orchestrated way.
This is a surprisingly successful debut solo album for Sean Gaffney, even considering his prior achievements in music. The record exhibits maturity and pure talent, and the excellent collection of songs will doubtlessly draw many listeners to Gaffney and his work.
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