London singer-songwriter ‘Barbarossa’ (aka James Mathe) returns with sophomore LP ‘Imager’ this week (Memphis Industries). The album follows the extremely impressive 2013 debut ‘Bloodlines’ and once again combines bedroom electronics with a voice that at times contains a slight, but obvious, tenor quality.
Unlike the aforementioned debut this is an altogether more approachable affair. There is an obvious pop backbone to proceedings as we’re treated to memorable choruses and organic melodies (‘Dark Hopes’ and ‘Muted’) that were not as obvious on the artist’s debut. This new formula exists throughout and produces a sound that is as easy on the ear as chocolate is to the tongue.
Sure, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before but what you do have are ten extremely well written songs. While it may be easy for me to criticise the lack of musical originality one simply has to acknowledge the strength of the song-writing; it is as time faultless.
The artist is experienced enough to never introduce unwanted instrumentation; keeping things simple and only really increasing the volume where necessary. There is a delicate hand involved throughout and clearly a great deal of thought. Why re-invent the wheel when it clearly does its job?
There are clear radio-friendly tracks here that should propel ‘Mathe’ to a wider audience and in truth this material deserves its day in the sun.
‘Imager’ is out now on Memphis Industries
You can see ‘Barbarossa’ at one of the following venues…