This is a review of "Different Than Before" recorded by Ric Neale. The review was written by Richard Garnett in 2005.
What a talented bunch of folk Leeds has got in its midst and here’s another one. Ric Neale is from the singer songwriter class and on the evidence of this CD he could well be top of it. A warmth and maturity to his sound makes it instantly likeable as if he’s saying “come over here, I want to sing you a song or two” and you immediately feel at ease. “Different Than Before” has an almost country vibe (we’re not talking sliding guitars, just vocal harmonies) and for your contemporary references there’s a distinct comparison with the pace of James Blunt. For a less contemporary reference think Tom Petty or Van Morrison. “Free” doesn’t drop the quality one bit and paints a bleaker picture with some heart aching vocal work vaguely reminiscent of Aqualung. It’s beautifully produced with some great ideas, particularly as the song picks up with some haunting and sparkling strings. Although pleasant, Neale does not have as distinct a voice as say a Gray, Sting or Blunt but what he lacks vocally he more than makes up for musically and his arrangements are note for note and beat for beat perfect. The only minor downside, but probably not for the Neale purists, is the live version of "Brick By Brick" which although sharing a lot of the qualities of the previous studio tracks isn’t quite up to the same high standards. This is a forerunner to his second album “Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time” and on this basis it will be well worth the investment.