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Ben Ottewell, Shapes & Shadows
ATO Records, Feb. 15

02/10/11
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



Of the three main singers in the Guster-style folk-infused Brit-alt band Gomez, Ottewell is the one who sounds like Eddie Vedder (Ottewell sang “See the World” and most of their other more marketable stuff, thus it’s kind of him to downplay his importance to the band in the press release for this LP). Here he teams with childhood friend Will Golden of Tunng in a series of songwriting moves probably intended to make him more comparable to James Blunt, such as on the dreary but vocally vibrant slow-dancer “All Brand New.” The title track opener finds Ottewell’s pinchy tenor playing up its more Peabo Bryson characteristics in the hope of parlaying the caricature into pop irresistibility, but man, we’ve been here before, not that that should stop you if you’re game for that sound (which a lot of critics aren’t, as Blunt recently admitted, and I’ll personally drink to that). The songwriting is very good if not Billboard-centric, riding repetitious melodies into sunsets rather than focusing on delayed delivery of in-your-face hookage. B- —Eric W. Saeger
 






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