Face To Face EP Review - Ben Hawling
Using the word 'honest' in a discussion on the music and lyrics of a
singer/songwriter can be risky. I mean, it's easy to say a song is a
masterpiece, just be applying the word 'honest' to an explanation of the
theme of lyrics/tone etc.
But, the word tends to lose its meaning and value when overused.
When writing this review for Gloucestershire based songwriter Russ Poole's
EP Face To Face, I tried my hardest not to surrender to the clutches of
temptation, and tired my utmost to steer away from adding the word 'honest'
onto the ends of my sentences.
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't. In fact, I picked up the
rawness and truthful quality of Russ' lyrics and thought-provoking themes,
upon first listen. The 'story' of the EP is of Russ' impending reunion
with an old friend/lover, after a significant amount of time. It also
depicts the inner struggle one goes through, leading up to it.
For example, in the third track on the EP, 'Better', Russ describes how he
sees himself, as well as how he appears to those around him. This conflict
seems to be built firmly on self deprecation and a jaded image of himself.
This is evident in the track's opening line, as Russ questions the
song's subject on whether they believe he has changed, "*Were you expecting
to see a better version of me, or just more sober*".
Later in the same song, Russ expresses that "*I won't be the last to care,
'bout not getting anywhere. There's so much more I wanted to say, but it's
too late*". This is Russ at his most sincere, accepting the loss of
something, or someone, great through idleness and self pity. Reflecting on
the past allows him to uncover the truth and is able to see what he truly
is, and what he could be.
Russ's use of gentle guitar work, supported by soft piano and drums
throughout, really enforces this idea and sets the intense tone of the EP
The second track 'Seven Bottles', acts as the 'picking-yourself-up' part of
Russ' journey through self pity. The song illustrates the twisted logic of
having lost, and turning to drink for solace. "*I know I'll be ok, seven
bottles all empty....I say that now, and I think I mean it*". This
more up tempo track is an oddly comfortable presence on the EP, but
successfully sums up the faux hope, after being left behind. This I'm sure
we can all admit to having experienced.
Russ also seems to imply that being honest to yourself isn't always
enough. In the opening lyrics to the EP's title track, Russ confirms "*All
I have is everything to me. All I want is everything she is*". This
suggests a confidence in one's self, but also an awareness that the song's
subject sees this as a limitation.
Built on Russ' deep vocals and a rolling guitar melody, the song acts a
step by step account of one's thoughts leading up to the important reunion
and a sincere prediction on how he will act upon finally seeing the object
of his affection again. This works well with 'Better' before it, and
continues the theme of deep self analysis, "*She stays the same, and I'm
bound to change. I'll lose control, when I meet you face to face*".
In the EP Face To Face, Russ Poole has managed to construct 4 intense, yet
gentle songs, which act as a meditation on the pure components of his very
being. Russ remains persistent in letting the listener hear the truth
about him throughout. "*Look a little closer, and you might see, not
everything is perfect and this wasn't meant to be*", as he claims in opening
track 'Take Your Time'.
And that, I would say, is pretty damn honest!