Reports Of Snow began life as a solo album by Oxford-based singer songwriter Abe Davies but, as it evolved, he called upon the talents of many musician friends and the album became something of a collaborative effort.
The 11 tracks feature variously Nick Simms of Cornershop, Truck festival founder Joe Bennett, Hazel Sainsbury, who provides some beautiful vocal touches, and six other accomplished musicians. But rather than resulting in a mishmash of conflicting influences, the collective’s creative energy seems to have been pooled and combined and the results hang together extremely well.
Gentle waves of piano and plucked guitar usher in opener Drink & Drive as electric guitar soars and sweeps in the background. The track then drifts into an ambient close reminiscent of John Martyn’s Small Hours. It forms a gentle beginning musically but lyrically carries a tale of the potential dangers of getting involved in a particular relationship, a recurring theme throughout the album.
Definite pop sensitivities are displayed on tracks such as The Best I Could, which is hook-led, warm and melodic, while subtle steel guitar adds to the song’s slightly melancholic air. Indeed, one of Davies’ main strengths is his ability to create simple melodies and sonic textures that stick instantly to the subconscious.
A case in point is recent single Stay Home, Elizabeth, which starts out with arpeggiated chords, builds with tribal drums then takes flight during the second verse. It’s beautifully balanced and warmly produced as is In The Wreckage, which has another soar-away chorus and vocal harmonies that hint at REM. Risky meanwhile has bittersweet melodies that echo Kings Of Convenience.
These are just a couple of the album’s potential reference points. To a lesser extent comparisons can be drawn with Travis and Coldplay (particularly on In The Wreckage) but not because the music is bland or MOR – far from it – but because of the attention to detail that’s paid to each song’s production and execution. All elements play their role and subtle flourishes, a simple but effective melody here, a layered vocal there, are added to hook the listener in.
While Reports Of Snow has many obvious single choices, not every track is as instantly striking and engaging. Album closer In The Woods, for instance, is a more subtly nuanced song but its simple piano motif and gliding backing vocals still create an impact by its close. Under Their Feet meanwhile is an airy, Air-y interlude of simple piano overlaid with gentle vocal harmonies.
The emotional pitfalls of relationships and their subsequent fallout inspire many of the lyrics throughout the album and the words are honestly, believably and emotionally delivered by Davies. It is clear that these songs and their lyrics are heartfelt and born out of direct experience rather than cynically manufactured for effect.
Overall, Reports Of Snow is a collision of indie, alternative rock, folk and pop that rewards and uplifts in equal measure. Many of the songs are as suited to intimate venues as they would be to major headline stages and, given the right exposure, Reichenbach Falls could have mass appeal and garner a wide fanbase. Unpretentious music that strikes gently at the heart and emotions, Reports Of Snow is an accomplished and confident, strong yet sensitive album that bodes very well for the future careers of Abe Davies and his many cohorts.