Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Album Review: Self-Portrait by Andrew Cream (by Emma Prew)

I’ve been a fan of Andrew Cream since seeing him at Manchf3.5ter last October. He, and his band, really impressed me live and I’ve listened to him an awful lot since then. However, until now, he’s only released a couple of EPs. And so, brilliant as the songs on those EPs are (Forever, In A Good Way is one of my very favourite ‘love’ songs), I have been very keen to hear his debut album.

Although acoustic-based, Self-Portrait is full band affair, encompassing drums and bass guitar as well as acoustic guitar, and this is clear from the outset with the opening track First World Problems. The song features some lovely intricate guitar playing, as well as your more typical strummed chords, which really shows Andrew’s technical ability. It’s an upbeat and catchy track with a pop punk feel. And of course, the subject of the song – first world problems – being something that all of us can probably relate to.

The second track on the album is called Violent Minds and it is classic Andrew Cream – melodic acoustic guitar playing and catchy thought-provoking lyrics. The song is about ignorant acts of violence that really aren’t necessary and Andrew expresses his, and many other’s, opinion[s] very eloquently. The lines ’It’s not my fight, Doesn’t mean that I can’t complain, As they speak their minds, The ignorant matter remains.’ and ’What do they really have to gain, By putting people through such pain, Is their life really that mundane?’ really stood out for me.

The Final Straw is next up on Self-Portrait and has been released as the first single from the album. As a poppy sing-a-long style track – ‘Get up, go on, And make us all proud of you.’ – it’s easy to see why this song was chosen as a single. It’s a somewhat feel-good track about growing up and doing what you want to do with your life. And if it’s not stuck in your head after just one listen then you obviously weren’t paying enough attention!

The fourth track, Seen It All, is pure punk rock. The song features more urgent vocals than the previous tracks, whilst retaining the acoustic guitar. Although, I have to say, I don’t think it would sound too out of place to throw in an electric guitar and aim for fully amplified punk rock. But that’s not what Andrew Cream is about (at least not yet anyway) and ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’.

My New Goal is a sincere and motivational speech in the form of a song. Musically the song is quite stripped back – no drums or bass – which just reinforces the personal nature of the song. The lyrics are clearly written about Andrew’s own experiences but it’s also written in such a way that everyone can connect with it. I think it’s important to be able to connect to a song on some level that’s personal to you and Andrew Cream has a knack for that. ’Just keep on doing the things that matter, Live life the way that you know how. My new goal.’

Next up on Self-Portrait is Privilege. The song starts fairly slowly but soon progresses into an upbeat and happy-go-lucky sounding acoustic pop punk tune. Musically it sounds like a perfectly cheery and carefree song but lyrically there are some important messages to get across. Andrew is a very talented lyricist and this is apparent with the line; ’A silent mind makes for thoughtless lies.’

More Than A Dream starts off purely acoustic with some fast paced chords accompanying Andrew’s vocals. I thought the song might remain that way but after the first verse the bass and drums kick in… and it’s wonderful. Upon first listen More Than A Dream is giving Forever, In A Good Way a damn good run for its money. The song is beautiful and lovely and lots of other soppy words – in a good way. ’To see you everyday, It’s more than a dream, And I’ll keep the dark thoughts at bay, Do my best to tell you, That these moments we share, Mean everything to me, At this time in my life I am the most happy.’

The last song on the album is called Problem Solved and begins with some lovely melodic guitar playing. I mentioned when talking about My New Goal that Andrew has a way of broadcasting a very motivational message and that is very much the case with this song too. ’The trick is to focus, Your goals and dreams. Learn from your set backs, Make sure you’ll see that, There’s no getting in your way, Find your path and have your say.’ It’s great to finish the album on such a positive and inspiring note. In fact, the album as a whole is quite a positive one which I think makes a change from a lot of music today.

At only 8 tracks, Self-Portrait is fairly short for an album but each song is brilliant in its own way so it really doesn’t matter. Andrew Cream is a very talented musician and lyricist and this is an album that he should be very proud of. I truly loved the album and genuinely feel inspired by it, so I hope you do too!

The album is released through Andrew Cream’s own record label, Scene Better Days. Go get it!

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