Review: Conor Ebbs – DriftersTweet
Moments of singer-songwriter Conor Ebbs’ début album, Drifters, are a bit like the wind. Inoffensive, static, and nice to listen to as long as you’re drifting off to sleep. However, a vigorous breeze is not something you’d be diving to put on your stereo in other circumstances.
‘Alliance’ is a soft opener, but instantly waves frantically in our direction to bring to our attention—a poetic background is at play here. The lethargic delivery doesn’t really translate across to this song, resulting in a dull opener. Backing vocals do little but serve as a distracting echo.
‘Drifters’ introduces a lighter sound, flowing better behind a higher vocal. Ebbs’ voice is more interesting here, as he croons “Lovers in sweet demise, drifters in the skies,” actually sounding like he’s drifting up along with them. ‘Rhetoric’ continues on his theme of flying lovers, but his poetics just fail to connect in the same way. Ebb’s lyrics try harder to be deeper than they need, the catch with trying to be deep is that you have to deliver with the emotion attached. I’m not believing his words.
But it gets better.
‘The Garden Path’ is one of the better tracks, along with ‘Where We Need to Be’. A strong piano and perfectly articulated lyrics, Ebbs vocals are flawless. A harmonica is a great addition, resulting in a track softer than an evening breeze in a swaying summer hammock.
With ‘Circus Clown’ comes a signified leap in Ebbs’ confidence. His vocal is darker, more demanding, and the instrumentals are unlike anything on the album up to this point. It’s a good direction for Conor, with the interesting composition lifting the play from simple background music. Similarly, ‘Scorch the Past’ sounds like it’s playing off a mobile phone riddled with interference. It’s kind of distracting, but that’s the aim of the game after all—it’s refreshing, like a splash of water after an undisturbed sleep.
However, ‘How Sweet’ gives us a glimpse of exactly the sort of thing Ebbs should be doing. Floaty and sweet harmonies lurk behind a strong vocal, showcasing his well spoken-ness with perfect pitch control.
Ebbs’ is no doubt a talent, but Drifters fails to eloquently portray it. It feels like a diverse spread of tapas instead of a hefty meal, a bit of everything but never enough of the thing you like best. But this can only be used to Ebbs advantage as he progresses, a free album is always about testing the waters. The cover artwork may be colourful and provoking, but Drifters is mostly beige inside.