Jack Savoretti’s third release finds a satisfying balance between catchy pop and the rustic mountain folk he’s perfected these last five years. A conscious effort to expand beyond the knuckled-down approach of his previous album, the sparsely-ornamented Harder Than Easy, Before the Storm offers a broader range of colour and texture. On the Euro-trash blues of opening number “Not Worthy”, Savoretti adopts the barest hint of a drawl over a light chugging beat that pulls the warm strains of a piano into its rhythmic swirl. The motif is continued on first single “Take Me Home”, the album’s strongest bid for radio play, with handclaps beneath an urgent vocal. The song features a chorus that threatens to take flight but never quite does and is shrouded in a cool, mountainous wrap of atmosphere that teasingly suggests the dizzy pop heights it withholds from listeners. Savoretti uses his voice (which can be described as a less wearisome and more dramatic David Ackles) to great effect on such tracks like the saloon-stomping “Knock Knock” and the haunting folk-pop of “Last Call”; he often sullies the numbers with cocoa-dirt vocals that strip them clean of their pop polish. Especially notable is the vaudeville storm of “Come Shine a Light”, at turns earthy and lush in Savoretti’s rich-as-mahogany voice. Most singer-songwriters are burdened with the unfortunate “sensitive-folkie” tag, a label the singer sidesteps with the piedmont blues flare-ups and ironic humour that infuse much of the album. He’s ahead of the troubadour pack, skirting radio-pop convention.
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