Self-titled debut solo album from Jose Contreras(July 07, 2014)
There’s a definite ‘something’ about the self-titled debut solo album from Jose Contreras. Once it bites, it holds tight. The attraction though is hard to pin down because the elements that make up the whole keep sliding away to cut their own path. The wavering, longing vocals, understated arrangements or minimal instrumentation. Whatever it is that attracts with this album depends on how the listener reacts to its intense lyrical zigzagging and hard to pin down messages.
Something that becomes increasingly obvious is the ‘stream of consciousness’ that pervades the songs. There’s a distinct impression of listening to a man sat before a microphone just letting it flow. It’s like sitting in on a jam session as the artist simply releases the words and music to let them fly and land where they will. That’s why this album demands time – one listen just can’t cut it, subject it to that indignity you’re going to miss the point. ‘So now we have to work at it?’ I hear you say. Actually, yes you do.
Interestingly, the album is set out as Side 1 and Side 2 (remember when we had to flip vinyl) and it’s a fitting approach. Side 1 is less constructed in a way that no two deliveries of the songs could ever be the same, from the free ranging depths of ‘Listen to My Angels’ and ‘Psychic Radio’ to ‘Silver Thread’ there’s an uninhibited ambiance at work. The elusive magic continues to pull through Side 2, equally spontaneous but somehow tighter, yet just as atmospheric – ‘Help Me Find A Place To Land’, ‘She Knows’ and ‘I Want Light’ are prime examples.
Reviewing this album is not easy, and that’s because it will mean so many things to so many people no two will ever agree. All I can say is try it and see.
Reviewer: Tom Franks