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Richard James Simpson - Sweet Birds of Youth

  by Steve Kinrade

published: 10 / 5 / 2018

Richard James Simpson - Sweet Birds of Youth
Label: Richard James Simpson
Format: CD


Promising but sometimes unfocused alternative rock on debut album from American musician Richard James Simpson

This is the debut solo album from Richard James Simpson, who has previous musical projects have been Teardrain (along side Jill Emery of Hole and Mazzy Star), and Invisible Chains, and boasts contributions from the likes of Joey Burns (Calexico) and Theo Welch (Barry White). Co-produced by Dustin Boyer, this set of compositions deals with the usual palette of lifetime experiences that encompass the usual emotions - happiness, despair and mistakes we have, and are due to make. After an initial brief entry point - 'Birds', the album explodes into life with 'Bulls', and we are into the loud/soft territory so masterfully explored by the likes of the Pixies. The guitars have a nice angular, even serrated edge to them, which continues nicely with the next track 'Taking Sides'. For these ears things, however, get that little more interesting with tracks like 'Moonbeam Arms'which has a lovely late 1980's feel to it a la Cranes. Indeed, it's when the Simpson/Boyer production team take artistic chances that the full potential of the songs are realised, for example 'You' with its lovely use of cello; 'Sorrow' with its paired back percussive arrangement and “Sometimes”. Rich ensemble vocals are also a nice addition to the sonic landscape. At first glance, the track listing may look daunting - 18 tracks - but a sizeable minority of these are what could be best described as SIB - Sonically Interesting Bridges - ambient tracks which serve as interludes, sometimes recurring, that aid the smooth flow of the musical story that Simpson is aiming to tell. 'Sweet Birds of Youth' is an interesting and commendable debut album, which hints at much rich promise to come. However, it may have been beneficial if this album had been more condensed and, dare I say it, a little more focused. Less sometimes is more. But one things for sure -Richard James Simpson is an artist to watch.

Track Listing:-
1 Birds
2 Bulls
3 Taking Sides
4 Moonbeams Arms
5 I Love You
6 Roller
7 Roll 3
8 You
9 Moon 1
10 Never Is Forever
11 10
12 Sorrow
13 Bloodsick
14 I Can, But I Can't
15 Roll 4
16 Sometimes
17 Spirit Plus
18 10 Estrellas

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