Saturday, 7 November 2015

Album Review: Set In Stone by Arms & Hearts

Steve Millar, aka Arms & Hearts, is an acoustic folk singer with a punk influence. On the 25th of November he releases a brand new EP named Set In Stone self released through What Ya Saying Alice and I was lucky enough to check it out in advance. 

The opening song is titled Lost. Like any good first song on an EP it sets the tone for the entire release. Arms & Hearts’ beautiful, passionate voice opens the song along with some simple guitar chords before a big chorus really gets the song going. I enjoyed the stripped back nature of the verse and the contrasting layered chorus. The song is about wondering where your life is taking you, something most of us punks will relate to. The next track - I, Malcontent - is a good mix of folk and Americana music. Combining a more finger picking guitar style (I think, I don't know how to play guitar but it sounds like that) with a very soulful vocal. The pacing of the vocals really caught my attention when I first listened to the song; the short pauses between the words gives a sense of urgency without Steve really having to go full blast with his vocals.

The third song is called The Rain and it begins with a mix of electric and acoustic guitar. This track has a much more sombre feeling to it than the previous songs, showing a variation in Arms & Hearts’ song writing ability. The chorus is the first time on Set In Stone where his voice is really stretched, with some more emotional, almost shouty singing. The penultimate song is called Dust And Bone and has a big feel of the ‘Brian Fallons’ about it. The song again uses electric and acoustic guitars as well as the addition of a harmonica at times. You can't really do a folk/Americana release without a harmonica really, can you? I loved the ending of the song where everything is stripped back to just vocals and acoustic guitar, I feel like this would be a big sing-along at an Arms & Hearts gig. If you like the Gaslight Anthem you'll love this track. Set In Stone is completed with a song called Take No Prisoners. I love that the track is all acoustic; I thought it was a fantastic way to finish the EP. The addition of a female harmony really added so much atmosphere to the song and made me wonder how much it would have added to the rest of the songs on the release. 

Arms & Hearts has released a fantastic new EP. There are so many unbelievably talented singer/songwriter types in the UK at the moment, people like Sam Russo, Andrew Cream, Joe McCorriston, Billy Liar, I could go on and on, and Arms & Hearts is as good as any of them.

Check out Arms & Hearts Bandcamp here:

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