It’s difficult to accurately ascribe the effects that a location an album is recorded in has on the final result. For their debut album Adrian Roye & The Exiles travelled to Vermont at the behest of Michael Chorney after impressing the respected musician/producer with their support slot at one of his London shows back in 2011.
The ten songs that make up Reclaimed may have been written at different times in different places and circumstances but they possess a liberated spirit and vitality that can conceivably be traced in part back to the decision to decamp to Chorney’s studio deep in the Green Mountains.
There’s a high standard of songwriting on display throughout, backed by arrangements that exude a modest inventiveness. It is Roye’s assured vocals that naturally attract most attention early on. They possess a real clarity and sincerity, communicating the subject matter of each song with a tangible passion but one that never risks being intrusive.
Opening track Plastic Bag Goldfish encapsulates the pleasingly uncomplicated accessibility that flows through the album. It’s followed by Warning Shots which, with its shades of soulful Americana, feels like it could confidently hold its own on a bigger stage (similar can be said of I Claim You that signs off the album on a positive, breezy note).
The melancholy-tinged Same Each Time has a revealing, emotional honesty while Cold War has a similarly bare, soul-exposing quality to it but ultimately soars higher, largely down to the vocal harmonies and evocative cello backing. It is Fear Of Phantoms that best contextualises the ‘Afro-Folk’ tag that has been assigned to the band, the grainy textures and changes of pace combining to darting, weaving effect.
The later stages maintain the standard, the opening drum patterns of Seven Hours being incrementally expanded into something richer whilst Where Are The Roses projects an understated authority. Both are indicative of the quietly accomplished nature of the album. The tracks glide by, capturing a variety of moods. There may be moments of sadness and resignation along the way but a euphonious ebullience is never far off. In this sense it’s a strikingly versatile listen.
There’s a real discretion to each of the musical constituents and the manner in which they are threaded together, and the album is better for it. It offers proof that those who shout the loudest don’t necessarily always create the biggest impact.