Caleb McAlpine
All Things New


3.7
great

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
March 28th, 2014 | 16 replies


Release Date: 03/07/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tonight you’re wildfire.

Caleb McAlpine – for the time being at least – is probably best known to both you and me as the latest iteration in an extremely long line of world-weary, guitar/banjo-toting troubadours. But where the Canadian singer-songwriter might just have a slight edge over his budding contemporaries is in the vocal department – imagine if you will, the sum total of Benedict Cumberbatch, Beck Hansen, and Alan Rickman holding a round of simultaneous elocution against each other in a perfectly soundproofed room; do that, and you’re already starting to tap into the zeitgeist of McAlpine’s set of pipes.

Thankfully however, a less mentally taxing alternative also exists: All Things New, the twenty-year old’s first EP, was released on Bandcamp for both streaming and purchase earlier this month. This mini-collection of six songs, as McAlpine himself helpfully explains, is the end result of a week of concentrated channeling of his voice into two microphones that he had set up himself in a derelict building. More importantly, the resulting 23-minute concoction is an interesting and often compelling listen that frequently threatens to crystallize the young Canadian into a growing concern.

Architecturally, McAlpine’s music is based around the near-obsessive repetition of guitar and banjo interplay, which causes most of the songs on All Things New to have a tendency of defaulting to the realm of the pastoral and the bucolic. But while this might give off an initial impression of overarching simplicity, it should be noted that none of the songs on All Things New feel even the slightest bit pedestrian. This is primarily a result of McAlpine wisely electing to craft his songs from the bottom-up before slowly layering in an increasing amount of load-bearing beams into the mix. And then, of course, there is that voice, which flits from peak to peak like a particularly omniscient deity.

From a thematic standpoint, All Things New draws upon both McAlpine’s relatively slender years and his constant desire to emphasize personal intuition over logic and reason. EP opener “All Heading West” is a case in point: here, the Canadian singer-songwriter operates in his area of greatest expertise, singing sagely over a bed of roiling guitar and female backup vocals in a successful attempt at encapsulating the uncertainty and guarded optimism that often drapes one’s coming of age. “There’s no telling what comes next/When we’re all just heading west,” prods McAlpine gently, and the idea of having to leave your home to find a new place in the world has never seemed so compelling. The excellent “Wildfire” follows a similar template, working deftly in and out of shifting lyrical scenery which is itself equally informed by both a natural, organic sensibility and a deliberate eschewing of complex musical arrangements. Then there’s the acerbic “Too Soon”, which swells and ebbs tantalizingly before taking a page out of Sufjan Steven’s “Romulus” to cast a coarse, miffed air upon the listener. “And you dream too little,” pronounces McAlpine, and the entire thing comes off as a stinging rebuke – which is probably exactly what he intended to happen. A similar dissonance emerges in the lively “Knees”, but the piece is much more restrained dynamically, with McAlpine showing off an impressive degree of control in the song’s bridge to cap off what is easily his best vocal performance on the entire EP.

Yet the type of heart at the core of All Things New is perhaps best summed up by closing track “All Things Wearisome”, a slightly more fulsome work that feels as if it was originally designed to operate on a much larger scale. Here, McAlpine and the guesting Nathaniel Sherman adopt a series of call-and-response vocals across a musical body which itself possesses a tangible pain of composition. The song does feel slightly uneven overall, and oftentimes it’s difficult to tell where the roles of either vocalist end or begin, but in the face of such blinding promise, none of that really seems to matter. What McAlpine has done here is to decisively deliver a statement of growing edges, which ultimately allows All Things New to close with the pervading sense that this is definitely not the last we have heard from the Canadian singer-songwriter. “What has been will be again,” vow McAlpine and his compatriot repeatedly on the EP's closing track, and it seems rather foolish to disagree.




Recent reviews by this author
U2 Songs of InnocenceThe Pineapple Thief Magnolia
Ty Segall ManipulatorLinkin Park The Hunting Party
Coldplay Ghost StoriesAngel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness
user ratings (5)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2014


7321 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Hi!

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
March 28th 2014


13462 Comments


hi!

SnakeDelilah
March 28th 2014


9188 Comments


Waior more like WOWior

Digging: Foxing - The Albatross

Tyrael
March 28th 2014


20978 Comments


Hmm

Gyromania
March 28th 2014


16092 Comments


guess it's just not good enough for 4 status

DoubtGin
March 28th 2014


6754 Comments


who

Emim
March 28th 2014


26675 Comments


WAAAAAAAIOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRR

COME OUT AND PLAYYYYYEEEEAAAYYYY




Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2014


7321 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I for one definitely do miss having Waior around here

qwe3
March 29th 2014


21368 Comments


I don't e can go f himself



Jk Caleb you're a cool guy.

deyp
March 29th 2014


35 Comments


Nice

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2014


28838 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hehe yea not quite a 4

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

Klekticist
March 29th 2014


1259 Comments


I really like this.

Wizard
March 31st 2014


19646 Comments


Caleb was always cool shit around here.

imagine if you will, the sum total of Benedict Cumberbatch, Beck Hansen, and Alan Rickman holding a round of

Like Alan Rickman, the badass bad guy in Die Hard?

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2014


9067 Comments


Caleb's only 20?

PunchforPunch
April 2nd 2014


6280 Comments


Eh thought it was free

dimsim3478
May 1st 2014


5433 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^I wish.

Shit is beautiful.

Digging: Hard Girls - A Thousand Surfaces



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy