by Madeline Reynolds
Every music-lover has experienced, at some point, that moment where a piece of music doesn’t just grip you, but rather, enchants you. With his new EP, Start A Fire, UK-based singer/songwriter, James Robinson is able to do just that. The follow up to his 2012 debut, Ropes, Start A Fire is a sincere and earnest sophomore effort that is as endearing as it is enticing.
The EP gets off to a strong start with the titular track, “Start a Fire.” A lovely introduction to the work as well as who Robinson is as a songwriter. A soft wailing sound, as if from a low, distant siren enters the soundscape, shortly followed by the melody of Robinson’s skillful strumming. Once Robinson begins to softly sing, the charming quality of his accent as well as the storytelling elements of his lyricism combine in a way that will have any listener captivated. His vocals have been compared to those of notable artists like Chris Martin of Coldplay, and it’s no wonder. Robinson’s voice does indeed share a very similar soothing quality, yet with a flavour and a passion that is all his own.
With a title like “Demons,” it comes as no surprise that the this track is the most haunting of the EP. Robinson’s voice echoes against the serene instrumentation in such a manner, you almost feel you’re in the room with him as he sings, “There is a rock on which you’re standing/ feels like you’re staring at the edge/ And now the bottom’s disappearing/ and you can’t see a safety net…yet.”
The clear strength in Start A Fire is in the Brighton-based musician’s songwriting capabilities. Even with the loveliness of his vocals or the skill in his instrumentation, it is in his poetic lyrics that this new EP truly thrives. “Holes in the Sky” by far has the most rustic sound on the track, while delivering sweetness and continued poeticism. The EP rounds out with “Smoke and Ashes” and just as “Start a Fire” was an excellent introduction, this track is a lovely conclusion. Even just looking at the titles, there is a sense of cohesion, like everything has come full-circle.
If you’re looking for a soundtrack to a peaceful afternoon, Start A Fire is the perfect album to let yourself get lost in.