Future of Forestry Young Man Follow. Again, chiming vibes, stadium sounds and synths that pulse, sweep and bleep abound, but this is less instant than his glorious Travel 2.

Label: Independent / Soundswan Records
Time: 10 Tracks / 42 minutes

Eric Owyoung’s Future of Forestry is not the most prolific of artists but they’ve never yet made a bad release. After the Travel series of EPs, the second of which (according to several of us on the Tollbooth) was one of the best releases of its year, expectations were high for this full-length project.

How disappointed I was by my first few plays. Gone were the carefully structured songs that would soar and take my being with them; gone were the hooks that I woke up to (often a different one everyday) and most tracks seemed to be great in patches, with beautiful sonic tones, but missing a sense of direction.

It was playing it at night on the way home that made the change. With no distractions, the fullness of every track came through more clearly, both sound and space. The motorway lights reflected in the rain amplified the atmospheric colours and nothing seemed to be missing. From then on, the more I listened, the more the tunes developed until everything seemed pretty complete. Now it is hard to find what I was dissatisfied with originally.

The only bit that frustrates me is the closing track, “Love Be Your Mantra,” a nicely mandolin-led semi-stomp that is too brusque to blend with the rest of the collection’s refined sounds.

Otherwise, the disc flows with innate stadium sensibilities, starting from the opening Simple Minds guitar note; the Coldplay arpeggios; the Bono-esque vocals and the complete falsetto Radiohead package of “As It Was” (I have to close my eyes every time).

But the comparisons are only a starting point, because Owyoung has developed a clear and appealing sound of his own on Forestry releases. That vocal is so enjoyable to listen to; he tends to feature a distinctive percussive xylophone vibe; his synths have sense of grandeur and he knows how to make the songs swell and fall back. This one also has pulsing bass synths, plucked strings, some Simon and Garfunkel-like vocals early in “Things that We Should Say” and even a little pedal steel in “Come Alive.”

Other highlights include the vibrant title track and two songs that bring the near-perfect Travel 2 EP to mind: “Chariots” and the single-like “Would You Come Home.”

His lyrics are typically oblique, but there is still a sense of love, trust, faith and encouragement coming through.

The collection is streamable on http://futureofforestry.bandcamp.com/album/young-man-follow, but give it plenty of listens. It can take quite a while for the patches of colour to become a flow of exquisite beauty.


Derek Walker

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