This is a review of "The difficulties of..." recorded by Johnny Powell. The review was written by Claire Hawker in 2013.
'The difficulties of...' ticks all the right boxes if you like sad-yet-somehow-uplifting sound! Created in recluse at Wainsgate Chapel up on the Old Town moors of Hebden Bridge, this album carries with it the solitary chills of its recording environment, and you'll surely shiver when listening to this low-fi, eerie yet brilliantly brash collection of songs. Fans of artists in the vein of Smog, Neutral Milk Hotel & Bon Iver will no doubt receive it well.
With a dynamic voice that whispers, quivers and, more unusually, bleats, Powell is able to sculpt dramatic atmosphere switches - from gentle and pacifying to intense and unsettling in an instant. This is a brand of gripping and refreshing dark-folk that steers far from the 'pretty but bland' resurgence artists who tend to categorise the genre.
In their parody, Powell's occasional mock attempts at happy-esque melodies serve to add another level to the melancholia that is, in an equally dry manner, more than hinted at by this acts full name - 'Johnny Powell and the big sad face of infinity'. And, there are many subtle finishing touches and textured sounds that keep on coming out of the woodwork, so that with each listen there is even more intricacy to be discovered...
Check out his Biography on Leeds Music Scene to find out more about his ever-interesting work.