This ‘RHODES’ article was written by Lauren Geary, a GIGsoup contributor
RHODES, real name David Rhodes, has already defied expectations, having released four EP’s and supported the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Sam Smith and London Grammar after only picking up a guitar in January 2013. The songwriter is now releasing his debut album, ‘Wishes’, on 18th September via Rhodes Music . The album even received guidance from top producers James Kenosha and Ninteen85 of Dry The River and Drake fame, respectively. Not bad for two and a half years, right?
In short, RHODES is the expert in conveying echo, space and drama through simplistic and stripped back delay-filled folk.
‘Wishes’ opens with a definitive Intro, entitled exactly that, in which RHODES’ distinctive husky vocals are laid bare as he howls “I don’t want to fade away, how am I gonna make you happy” over increasingly prominent drums that effectively simulate a racing heartbeat. It is in this that the album’s theme of vulnerability and apprehension are introduced. Leading on from this, the piano led ‘Close Your Eyes’ deliberates the concept of trust as RHODES adopts the third person approach whilst addressing his own fear of performing. RHODES delivers a strong and stirring rendition in a Sam Smith-esque debonair manner, with the occasional and raspy and rapturous tones of Ben Howard.
It is throughout the next three to four tracks of the album that it becomes apparent that RHODES is most comfortable working within the template of guitar or piano led verses that gradually build into soaring climactic chorus’. This format, which although beautifully and hauntingly executed on ‘Wishes’, is still perhaps oversaturated, and in many cases serves to veil and bind together tracks that could otherwise strike forcefully on their own.
‘Turning Back Around’ offers a more upbeat alternative to the aforementioned formula, featuring a compelling and emotive performance as RHODES cries “I didn’t mean no harm’ in such an intoxicating manner that you can completely forgive and forget the double negative.”
The most exhilarating moment on the album presents itself within ‘Let It All Go’ which features the vocals of 19 year old British singer songwriter Birdy, most famous for her tender and saintly cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love.’ Together the two create layers of emotion in the piano led slow-building verse, soaring-chorus template that effectively helps to deliver a dramatic and raw performance.
The rest of the album serves to praise RHODES’ immense vocal range, particularly ‘Losing It’, and ‘Wishes’, the album title track, verifying the buzz currently circulating the artist. Within the Deluxe version of the album, RHODES’ echo-filled and bare Coldplay-esque take on Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ (certified by the lady herself via Twitter), is definitely a track to lend time to, with RHODES managing to bring meaning to the lyrics that may have otherwise been overlooked in the original.
‘Wishes’ is a stunning debut that would exceed the expectations placed upon even the most seasoned and practiced performer, however coming from an artist with only two and a half years under his belt, it becomes ever more endearing. With further experience and time to grow, who knows what RHODES will be capable of. It is evident that each element of his album has been thought through meticulously and decided upon with a set purpose,right down to the use of backing vocals and emphatic use of the rhetorical. Despite some of the tracks repetitive nature, RHODES manages to deliver an authentic inspiring performance that showcases both fragility and power simultaneously throughout, a feat not achieved by many.
‘Wishes’ is out on the 18th September 2015