Second album time already for Haven, who feel like they’ve beenaround for only five minutes but have in fact clocked up almost three yearsin our consciousness. Starting your record with a song called ChangeDirection would seem to indicate a new approach.
It doesn’t. All For A Reason takes the successes of the first album – agood melody, the instantly recognizable voice of Gary Briggs and a “wall ofsound” guitar accompaniment – and subtly develops these components. Sosubtly in fact that you won’t notice the difference on songs like therecent single Wouldn’t Change A Thing, a cross between Say Something andTil The End.
Change Direction itself serves as an intro to Have No Fear, where Briggsrather unimaginatively sings “I wait for you, I always do, Can’t fight thefeeling, that I am feeling”. It’s fair to say that the lyrical invention is patchy on this record, another taste being “you’ve got to see things can only get better cos together we’re better” – funnily enough on the songTogether’s Better.
Johnny Marr produces six of the tracks, and these are the onesmost closely associated with the first album stylistically. Where theinvention seems to go up a notch is in the four Dave Eringa productions. Title track All For A Reason is more reflective from the outset, aneffective low range unison vocal from the band over a loping bass andplodding drum, building impressively to a genuinely memorable chorus. WhatLove Is goes faster, changing the musical direction at exactly the rightpoint, with Eringa’s production tending to underplay Briggs’ more tremulousmoments and bringing out more bass. Don’t Say A Word is reflective andmoody, cueing the strings in a Feeder kind of way, and the closing Getaway fares well, despite the disappointing “I’m falling” vocal clich�.
Briggs’s voice is one of the main reasons behind Haven’s success, butneeds to be treated with care. The trembling start on slow builder TheFirst Time is overdone, while Something Moved Me has a conflict between itseasy-going accompaniment and its ever fraught vocalist.
Not a disastrous second album by any means then, but not a significantstep forward either, and All For A Reason apart, lacking the sort ofmelodic inspiration this band showed on their debut. Undoubtedly it’s agrower though, and the signs are that if the band cast their netproducer-wise they could yet come up with the goods.