Ben Ottewell, Shapes & Shadows (ATO Records, 2011)

Ben Ottewell is best known as one of the trio of singer/guitarists in the UK band Gomez. Recently Ottewell took a short timeout from the band to co-write a number of songs with Sam Genders, formerly of the band Tuung, and recorded these songs as a solo album called Shapes & Shadows. The album will interest fans of Gomez, although the familiarity of the sound may be something of a mixed blessing.

Ottewell's distinctively husky voice as always been one of Gomez' strongest assets, and it's predictably the main selling point here. Unfortunately, Ottewell keeps the album a little too laid back to make maximum use of his voice. The overall sound on Shapes & Shadows is more acoustic and scaled back than a typical Gomez album would be. This isn't such a bad thing if you take each song individually, but the album as a whole becomes a little too predictable. The songs are all at least decent, but they're also all very similar, and none really stays with you once you stop listening. It's only on the penultimate song "Step Right Back" that Ottewell allows himself to get a little bit edgy, and the album really could have used a bit more of this.

Shapes & Shadows is a passable first try as a solo artist for Ben Ottewell, but it lacks energy and variety. Ottewell is back with Gomez, who just released a new album called Whatever's on Your Mind on June 21. Hopefully they will liven things up in comparison.

Overall grade: C+

reviewed by Scott

Ben Ottewell does a solo acoustic version of the title song "Shapes & Shadows"

No comments: