Sometimes the lead singer is, well, just a singer. They’re singing the songs, and it’s as simple as that. Other times, however, the lead singer’s voice transcends to something more. When the voice is so unique to stand out, or so powerful that it commands attention, then it becomes more akin to an instrument all its own. Like a wailing guitar, or a blaring trumpet, or a smashing drum kit, a singer with one of those special voices helps define the sound of the band, if not becoming the sound itself.
Think Lou Reed, or David Bowie. Elton John. Beck. Simon and Garfunkel. Without the uniqueness of their voices they would not be who they are. I Am Kloot’s singer, John Bramwell, has one of those unique voices, and on Let It All In, his sound hovers at a level just above the music to, in essence, make his voice the focal of all the songs. Thankfully, the band’s sound is perfectly suited to the seasoned, seen a thing or two, cat-like crooning of Bramwell.
On top of that, you’re getting some clever, sharp writing.
Opening strongly with a song called, ‘Bullets’, lyrics like “I keep the note you never wrote, / And put it with the rest I never got” or “Don’t open up that drawer there, / That’s where I keep my ghastly truth” matched with the vibrato wail of the guitar and sullen staccato of the drums delivers songs that are meant to tell a story on top of the mood.
The album has an overall tone that remains consistent, and allows you to play through the whole record without any subliminal displacement throwing off the expectations. This is not music to dance to, or to host a party with. This is not driving music. This is not boudoir music. This is music that says, “It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m reading with a cup of tea”, or perhaps, “It’s a Tuesday morning and I’m not in the mood for the rest of the week”. Or “I feel pleasant and want to get some work done”. Or, best case, “I want to listen to some good music and do nothing else”.
You’ll want to pay attention to a song like, ‘Hold Back the Night’. It’s a slow, smoky groove that creates an atmosphere of rainy city nights, back alley bars, and steep martinis. It is lonely and reminisces. A pondering dilemma of letting the music search for the past that was once surely bright, or, maybe, time has made the past seem all the more fantastic. Do we ever find the answers to those questions?
Some songs bring large orchestral back-ups, a vocal symphony and a heightened sense of composition which has been a past successful style of I Am Kloot’s. Others rely on the intimacy of an acoustic stripped-down guitar, simple drum riff and that unique voice.
A song like ‘Shoeless’ will harken back to a simple ’60s melody, an era of disenfranchised youth, unaware of what to rebel against. ‘These Days Are Mine’ goes big and grand, and shows you the band’s power. ‘Forgive Me These’ brings a nice closure to the album ending on a simple vocal note just as the album opened; a hello and goodbye from that voice, which bookends a pleasant musical experience that will live in a corner of your mind, and remind you of when it’s the right time To Let It All In.