James Rawson – Tristan & Isolde
James Rawson’s Tristan & Isolde is an album filled with thoughtfulness, with huge amounts of sprawling space to get lost in.
Where so many artists feel the need to fill every bit of sonic space available, James Rawson has managed to create a much more reflective record that is equal parts unsettling and entrancing. ‘J.Alfred’ perfectly opens the album, overflowing with biblical references that create a weighty and philosophical tone, while ‘St. Katherine’ journeys on its own drum machine led pilgrimage. The blend of electronics with acoustic, soaring tones creates a fascinating tension that underlines Rawson’s songwriting, which breaks away from a lot of the expectations that are often placed on a singer-songwriter. His willingness to allow the music itself to speak, without relying on lyrics constantly when sometimes they are not needed, is a breath of fresh air for listeners of alternative music. This is music that requires a certain level of personal investment – it’s not the kind of thing that pays off right away like any old pop music that is designed to give you a hit right away. James Rawson’s music is more of a slow burn, gently giving the listener the same respect it deserves to be given in return, and as such Tristan & Isolde is an unexpected summer hit. Once you’ve taken the time to absorb an album like this, it will keep on giving pleasure again and again.