Young Man

Vol. 1

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Beginning in 2009 with his YouTube channel and continuing on proper releases over the next two years, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Young Man's (Colin Caulfield) contemplative lyricism and almost otherworldly approach to pop put him on the map as a musician wise beyond his college-aged years. For his second full-length, Vol. 1, Caulfield took a new approach, bringing in a full band -- guitarist Emmett Conway, bassist Joe Bailey, synth player Jeff Graupner, and drummer Dylan Andrews -- as well as the Sea and Cake's John McEntire as producer for the first time, and while those changes contribute to his most fleshed-out sound yet, the record makes the case for Young Man keeping things more to himself. To be clear, there's nothing wrong here with the musicianship, but part of the appeal of Young Man's previous works, like debut LP Ideas of Distance, was the use of space. That space gave the arrangements some breathing room and fostered an intimacy that really invited the listener to get closer, but Vol. 1's heavier layers of glimmering guitar, celestial synths, and twinkling percussion flourishes serve more to create distance between Caulfield and the listener than convey that earlier intimacy in a new way. Still, there are bright moments here: the hopeful "Do" asks the listener to "have something [he] never had in [his] life at all" and "Take, take time to do just what you want to do," unfolding from an almost dronelike guitar strum/piano plink to a campfire rave-up in its four-minute run; and "Wasted" strikes the best balance between earlier Young Man sounds and McEntire's production, placing Caulfield's airy vocals and stream-of-consciousness-like lyrics against a backdrop of languid, The Biz-era guitar and whispers of ray-gun synth. If Ideas of Distance was a step forward from Young Man's Boy EP, Vol. 1 is a detour; Caulfield touches on the signposts listeners have come to expect from him, but the journey sometimes seems like the longer, less emphatic way around.

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