Back in June I reviewed the debut single from a Glaswegian dude who goes by the name of A. Maxwell. Said Glaswegian dude is the guitarist for Musical Outcast favourite Junebug and now he is spreading his wings as a solo artist. The results of this foray into the solo singer/songwriter arena are this EP titled First Species, and as far as debuts go this is a damn good one.
The EP gets started in great up tempo fashion. From a folky ‘one man and a guitar’ beginning we are soon introduced to some brilliant strings which help to give the track another dimension. However the main thing that you should notice from this first track is that Maxwell sings in his own accent! I am fed up of singers all trying to sing in the same generic accent so it’s fantastic to hear that Maxwell is more than content to just sound like himself.
The lead single ‘Hyde’ follows and it’s still as impressive now as it was when I reviewed it originally. (A review you can read here)
As I said in the review at the time the beauty of this track is in its simplicity. For the most part it is just Maxwell and his guitar and this brings his lyrics and his voice to the forefront. The vocal is great, it’s not polished within an inch of its life, it has a rough quality which makes it sound more authentic.
The EP’s title track is for all intents and purposes an instrumental. There’s plenty of melody and vocal harmonising but not a great deal else. This however is the track’s downfall. For the length of the song that it is not enough happens. I just feel that it could have done with being a bit shorter.
Penultimate track ‘Broken Lance’ sees the tempo pick back up after the last little excursion and Maxwell is back to his best. The strings again compliment his voice and guitar playing well and everything moulds together to create another enjoyable track. The second half of the song with a booming drum beat and more aggressive vocal give the track a bit more of a kick and distinguishes it from what went before.
For the finale ‘Make Em Laugh’ the pace drops right back down, with Maxwell in reflective mood. The 21 year old ditches his trademark frenetic energy and delivers another great performance. This track shows another side to the man but it’s a side that is definitely worth seeing. While it means that the EP doesn’t finish with an enormous bang it does finish on a very impressive note; Maxwell it seems is no one trick pony.
First Species is a very enjoyable debut; in fact scratch that it’s just a very enjoyable record full stop. There’s plenty of variety and replay value and while it may not be totally flawless how many records really are? Having said that, apart from the title track being slightly too long there really aren’t any flaws to speak of. It’s not polished and it’s not all shiny but it is brilliantly authentic, fantastically individual and more importantly it’s simply A. Maxwell.
First Species is officially released on 13th August