Sunday, June 12, 2011



Fusing the musical head and heart is always a delicate balancing act. Some artists overreach, straying too far into the intellectual ether, losing that precious connection with a wider listening audience.

Tristan Clopet's songwriting recipe perfectly combines clever subject matter with melodic hooks, making each note count and delivering something that can be universally enjoyed. Eclecticism is the key element that will bring you back to this disc for repeated spins. Lots of great chances are taken, exotic instruments employed, yet all remains focused and in context.

There is one attribute that separates this guy from many of his contemporaries:

His voice.

Expressive, capable of hitting soaring heights, though never deployed in a way that is over the top (unnecessary showing off, over-extending notes), Clopet's vocals need no assistance from the bland pitch-correction devices that are now so ubiquitous on the pop landscape. Influences can be detected, though he has synthesized them into a style that is his alone. Topping this, his skills as a writer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist are formidable.

There are so many high points in the ten songs that comprise Name it What You Want, that it is tough to pick just one or two. "A Summer in Sussex" kicks off the album in an uptempo fashion with scatter-shot, slightly stream of conscious wordplay, shifting gears toward the finish. The one-two punch in sequencing lands the brilliant "A Chat With My Brain" next, which was a wise choice for the taster single that preceded this set.

The intro alone to "Toutes Directions" is enough to make you want to hand over a vital organ just to claim part ownership of its construction. Don't let that stop you from enjoying the rest of it, though. Tight, funky guitar riffs intermingle with an inventive piano part that will echo in your head for days.

All before the first verse even begins.

Instances of interesting arranging tricks abound, there's a particularly inspired break that uses a rush of strings in "An Introduction...To Forward Thinking" which seamlessly flows into the guitar solo. These nuances serve to enhance the listening experience. One of the most ambitious pieces found here is the closer, "The 4:45 Through Remembrance". Threading several ideas through a very haunting four minutes of music, this stunner comes across with the swagger of a mini-epic, complete with atmospheric vibraphone and a fluent, classical piano flourish midway through.

"Ladies and gents, we've reached our final destination."

This is very mature work, mixing introspection with exuberance. All ten tracks are stellar. Worthy of note: It's very exciting to hear a new artist with a vision for their output that supersedes the notion that it's merely empty "product" to be consumed and tossed aside. The praise which I have heaped upon this record may seem over-effusive- until you listen to it. Every superlative is well deserved. This is music that you'll be able to enjoy today, twenty years on and beyond. Name It What You Want? Brilliant Debut.

Right now, Tristan Clopet and his band are touring, spreading the word and bringing these songs to life on stage. You can find out where he's heading next right here

Masterfully produced by Raymond Richards, Name It What You Want is available now

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