Chris Singleton’s debut album Twisted City is based around a centralconceit, a journey across London, Britain’s twisted capital city, witheach song representing a station where something significant happenedto the Irish singer-songwriter. Heavily influenced by the Beatles andPaul McCartney‘s solo outings, it is a melodic journey designed to take thestrain out of the stops.
Kicking off at Canon Street with Worry Number One, Singleton recalls anight out with friends watching the City suits hitting on the blondesat the bar. A soft keyboard introduction quickly segues into a rockierbackbeat and chirpy reassuring vocal. For some reason it had thisreviewer thinking of Get Back, though it completely lacks the edginessof that much harsh classic.
From Canon Street to London Bridge in GimmeSomething is a smooth transition with Singleton supplying more of thesame. The song has an optimistic feel, though it is purportedly aboutSingleton’s quest for success in the “difficult” music industry. Thevocals bring to mind Paul Weller, with driving melody and machine gundrums.
The sense of optimism is apparent throughout the album – whatever thelyric. Get Up, Stop Following, Whatever and Twisted City areessentially poppy feel-good three minute wonders that owe a lot toSingleton’s influences, especially Macca.
And that is essentially the main problem with the album. There isn’tenough of him shining through, which is a pity. Singleton is anaccomplished songwriter, and. the arrangements and musicianship isundoubtedly of a high standard (it was mastered at Abbey Road by GeoffPesche, who worked with Gorillaz, Coldplay and Athlete).
Yet you longfor him to show a sharper edge and let go of his inspirations. There ismore to him than a Macca manque. We are given tantalising glimpses ofit in songs like Twisted City, The Only One and Stop Following, but itis as if he can’t quite let himself be nasty when he rocks, and let’sface it, rock needs nasty boys.
He is far better when he admits to his softer side, especially in thetruly lovely You Carry On, about Heathrow terminal 1 apparently. Theairport has never seemed so alluring, and he captures that longing ofthe returning traveller: stateless, lost and longing for something theycan’t quite place.
As first albums go, this is a decent platform on which to build acareer. There is nothing to offend, lots to feel good about, and itshould appeal to a mainstream audience. But there is also little tomake you stop the waitress in the wine bar and ask: “Who is this?” Butif Singleton can let go, this album hints that there is a trulyinteresting talent to be found in here.