Amidst a large crowd of 1970’s-influenced singer-songwriters, Conrad Vingoe stands out more than most, so after last year’s high quality ‘Spare Buttons And Bones’, it’s a pleasure to hear the follow-up just a year after. Although Vingoe has never been one for ambitious arrangements, ‘Simple Secrets’ could be viewed as a back to basics record with Vingoe producing and playing the vast majority of instruments himself. Once again, the final results are thoroughly likeable.
Vingoe’s references are fairly easy to spot. The Kings Of Convenience-like ‘Fuel For Fire’ rubs gentle shoulders with the spare Nick Drake-inspired arrangements of ‘Flow’; here the guitars are strummed perfectly as Vingoe’s tremulous performance takes centre stage but at just two minutes I couldn’t help feeling short-changed by it as good as the following track (the celebratory ‘Mountains And Sea’) may be. There’s an apparent ease to the intertwined melodies of ‘One Of These Days’ and ‘Tattoo’ that is both instantly engaging and soothing.
Good that the album is though, there are also a few moments which drift by pleasantly and are hard to remember five minutes later and if there is a criticism of the record it is that it lacks killer tracks, rather it’s a model of consistency. Yet always at the forefront is Vingoe’s voice; imbued with enough warmth and tenderness to carry even the slightest of songs. I just wish he’d explore his darker side a little more.
Nick Drake, Declan O’Rourke, Kings Of Convenience