If I’m fair then part of the reason I’ve taken against this album is because of its role in the death in my CD player. Would my negative reaction have been so strong if my trusty Discman hadn’t had a fatal meltdown in the middle of track 5? I’m not sure. After all there’s nothing particularly objectionable about this Rob Reynolds release, it’s solidly produced and vaguely soulful, but to me it just screams middle aged and middle-of-the-road.
I’m not adverse to this kind of laid back fare, I like Jack Johnson, I own a Norah Jones album, but this just wasn’t doing it for me. It was far too slick, cheery and prone to cliché for my tastes. There’s something deeply dated about Reynolds’ approach; to the brisk jazzy flourishes that characterise songs such as Heaven Knows and Change My World.
Vocally and musically this is sub Sting stuff. Yes, Reynolds has a pleasant gravely burr, but though it’s a strong voice it’s hardly outstanding. On opening track Sweet Mother he opines over the state of the planet, but in a very lounge act manner, peppering the proceedings with a sprinkling of sax and a peppy drum beat as he cautions that “we’re running out of time”.
The rest of the album proceeds in a similar vein, sunny and inoffensive even when singing about the perils of the bottle on Sherry Man or bemoaning lost love on Loving Arms. Dream Song is probably the strongest track here though it still occasionally triggers the cliche-o-meter, and closing number Don’t You Ever Dream proves conclusively that less is more by stripping away the superfluous symbols and sax interludes to create something altogether more satisfying.
Yorkshire man Reynolds is clearly a talented man with a strong musical background – his first album Waiting For The Tide was well received and the subsequent mini-album Samara Never Sleeps went down very well with the blokes at Mojo magazine – but his songwriting abilities are perhaps not his strongest asset. There’s an anonymous gloss to a lot of these tracks that makes it very difficult to engage with what he’s trying to say.
I’m probably being far too harsh, in fact I know I am. I’m clearly not a part of the target demographic for this kind of thing, and Sightseeing is a slick and professional album that will clearly appeal to a lot of people. But it won’t succeed in winning me over; I’m not budging in my opinion that this is pleasant but rather bland affair, conspicuously lacking in edge and energy. Sure it’s nice enough, but nice just isn’t going to do it. If that makes me a snob, so be it.