Musicians working solo in the singer/songwriter category don't have it easy the label alone scares off a lot of listeners, thanks to a stigma of ceaseless sameness and average acts flooding the genre with acoustic guitars, granola warbling, and philosophical-hippie-shit-meets-posturing-confessional lyrics. And they lack the attention-grabbing power of a good gonzo band name. Who wants to check out John Smithbrowngardnerman if they can discover the Blistering Buttocks of Babylon? That said, normal-named and criminally "unknown" singer/songwriter Chris Robley is a damned sophisticated standout. His latest album, This Is The (Cutthroat Pop Records), is a mesmerizing mélange of melody and multi-instrumentation, filled with haunting four-part harmonies, electric piano, pulsing percussion, psychedelic guitar solos and deft acoustic plucking reminiscent of Nick Drake's sturdy strum. With eclectic, solid songs that stand apart from each other but together feel as comfy as a pair of fuzzy slippers, Robley's closest living audio kin (since The Beatles broke up) might be U.K. artist Damon Gough, which is kind of a cool real name. But Gough got savvy to the singer/songwriter stigma and records under the moniker Badly Drawn Boy. Maybe Robley should consider an umbrella "group" name, too. If he can just get people through the door, his music will do the rest.
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