Review: Solo Project – Unwind

Raf Batchelor is an English musician with a liking of the folk genre and all its multiple possibilities. Apart from the album cover art, ‘Unwind’ is all his own work which means his chosen name of Solo Project is accurate if rather lacking in imagination. Thankfully, it’s pleasing to report that imagination isn’t in short supply where his music is concerned.

Batchelor is just seventeen and this is his second album already and initially his songs border on the naive. Yet if ‘Camera Rolls And Casios’ gives the impression that we’re in for a record of frail freak folk then it proves to be a false dawn. This is a folk album but one which takes all kinds of experimental detours and about-turns. Indeed, ‘Lily Of The Emerald Valley’, the track which follows the opener, witnesses Batchelor switch from lily-livered teenager with a falsetto to a dark knight of deep-voiced decadence; still vulnerable, only now he sounds rich with experience. Thereafter, we can enjoy rattling intensity (‘Around My Head’), shoegaze effects (‘I Don’t Care (It’s Summer)’) and eerie rock (‘Friends’). Yet perhaps the most impressive moments are saved towards the middle of the record where the artist unveils the ghostly ‘Hazed Dream’ and the beautifully desolate ‘Holiday’.

It’s an over-used compliment but Batchelor does prove to have the talent, songwriting and arrangement skills that are well beyond what we can expect from a teenage solo performer. Some may label ‘Unwind’ as freak folk but it sounds equally at home alongside the ghostly psychedelia of Deerhunter.

Web Sites:
‘Unwind’ Bandcamp Page and Free Download

Further Listening:
Deerhunter, That Ghost

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