Thanks to his solo work as A. Rex and last year’s collaboration as The Shy Bunch, Andrew Espinola has started to prove his credentials as a master of old fashioned songcraft. So even if ‘Neighborhood Of Open Doors’ is frustratingly short (a five-track EP of twenty minutes in length), this is the Texan’s most thoroughly satisfying release yet.
Built from a simple acoustic melody, Espinola’s warmth of delivery on ‘Plan Your Love’ ensures that the EP gets off to a typically likeable beginning. ‘Froze’ is like listening to one long chorus such is its infectious nature, whilst ‘Soldier’ features a more full-bodied arrangement and a sense that there is a band performing it. In contrast, ‘Hard To Love You’ is wonderfully intimate; it even features a non-indulgent guitar solo and gets away with it. Then to end the EP, ‘Shades Of Gray’ Espinola unleashes, for him, his inner Rock God with a grungier edge to the chorus.
Espinola isn’t attempting to craft anything that’s going to turn the world of music on its head. What we have here instead is honest, heartfelt songwriting delivered via finely-tuned pop arrangements. Furthermore, for those who miss the time when Eels’ Mark ‘E’ Everett delivered “proper” singing, Espinola provides a solution.
Death Cab For Cutie, Eels