George Stanford

Big Drop

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Singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter George Stanford first garnered attention with 2007's The EP, a taster for this, his debut album, Big Drop. All five of its tracks reappear within, although the live "Downriver" is now replaced by a studio version. The pop-flecked "My Own Worst Enemy" was chosen for the single, and although undeniably radio-friendly, it wasn't particularly reflective of the EP as a whole, nor of the forthcoming album. It did, however, showcase Stanford's musical and lyrical talent, his strong sense of melody, his copious arrangement style, and his clear, enticing tenor. However, the artist's true forte is found in the sophistication of his sound and the subtle interplay of genres that underlies it. The EP made that evident and the album now brings it to fruition, with the set's songs enveloping myriad genres, while never drawing attention to that fact. The retro '60s sound that shades the emotive "Loving You" is a prime example; a further case in point is "30,000 Feet," which incorporates both sunny reggae and soulful '60s Stax brass in a way the Jamaicans never envisioned. Stanford can invoke the likes of Paul Simon on one song, then knock out another in a far more muscular fashion, as he does on the power ballad-styled "Song for the Untrue." However, the singer reaches his headiest heights when he plants his flag in soul. The emotive blues-tinged "Nikole," the evocative surf-swept "Downriver," and the R&B-doused "Worth It" all find him scaling these highest peaks. These are the set's standouts, although in all probability the lighter numbers, including the gentle title track, will be the ones that permeate the airwaves and climb up the charts.

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