William Fitzsimmons – Lions (Nettwerk Records, 2014)
Reflecting his struggles and personal growth since 2011’s Gold in the Shadow, William Fitzsimmons’ fifth studio album, Lions, is a deeply vulnerable and touching effort, with darker thematic elements than his previous releases.
Fitzsimmons’ psychological studies played a huge part in his songwriting. In a recent interview with Daniel Hajek, he admitted that facing depressing thoughts is his only path to a “curative conclusion,” further elaborating that “if you’re willing to acknowledge that really awful deep stuff, that’s how you get to a better place.”
Although his acoustic guitar has been swapped for entirely electronic instrumentation, and his songs boast a therapeutic quality, the results are emotional, yet predictable. We are still faced with 12 unassuming folk ballads.
Lions may not be a career-defining album for Fitzsimmons, but it is beautifully-crafted and melancholic, showcasing the talents of a man who is constantly refining his craft.
Trial Track: “Fortune”
– Paul Traunero
Black Atlass – Young Bloods (Fool’s Gold; 2014)
Black Atlass’s new EP Young Bloods is far from a masterpiece. After listening to each song multiple times all that comes to mind is lazy production. Each song tries its best to sound suave and invoke a new age alternative electronic music style, but it is simply too overdone. The addition of analog white noise to reenact an old school record player feels tired and has been done by so many artists already. Arguably, the album lacks originality and does not attempt to think outside of the box. It is an extremely safe EP with respect to originality and creativity. Considering he hails from Montreal, and that the deep house scene is quite large, some might find it nice background music for a house party, but other than that it has very little creative insight. If you are looking for some original work, honestly, look elsewhere.
Trial Track: “Jewels”