Message to Bears is the accomplished multi-instrumentalist Jerome Alexander based in Oxford, UK and ‘Departures’ is a heavy vinyl reissue by Dead Pilot Records of his 2009 limited edition debut CD release.  

OK – so i’m probably not the best person to ask for a review of an entirely acoustic album given that this blog focusses on the various electronic shades of music. It was therefore with some trepidation that I pushed the play button on this promo download fully expecting some hideous neo-folkery to emanate from the speakers.

But no, hang on, this isn’t supposed to be happening, i’m smiling and relaxing back in the chair as the sheer force of personality in the album wins me over with each successive track. To be sure, there are some small sections that don’t really grab me like the do dah and ooo ee ooo style improv vocals on four of the tracks, but the instrumental melodies on this album are sublime and compelling.  Guitars and violin fold comfortingly around kids playground voices on ‘At the Top of this Hill’ and the wonderfully melancholic track ‘Hope’ has rich layers of violin/viola/cello strings building and skittering over each other playfully. While some tracks have an ambient-folk leaning others are more neo-classical in style like the piano driven piece ‘November’ which is full of moody shimmering violin and a field recording of heavy rain that builds towards the fade.  ‘Running through Woodland’ sounds just like that with its guitar pulse skipping along to violin accompaniment and short harmonica bursts joining in as we dash through sun dappled glades. The album ends with the joyous Snowdonia – no slate tips and rain here, this track is full of scenic wonder and lungful’s of mountain air.  

So I would like to recommend that you take a listen to this album no matter what genre of music forms your main listening taste. It will win you over and carry you through to the end effortlessly in an understated and thoroughly pleasant way.

Message to Bears – Departures. Dead Pilot Records DPRLP01. Heavy duty 180 gram black virgin vinyl with MP3 download on purchase. 250 copies available now – £15.49