Cameron J Niven
Album: Tick Tock EP
Label: Le Pont
Tick Tock EP is a promising debut from Cameron J Niven. The E.P was produced by Ben Walker of BBC2 Horizon Award nominated Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, who also contributes mandolin on Fixing To Gamble.
Niven’s (guitar, vocals) relaxed, laid-back and wide ranging style puts you at instant ease whilst the instrumentation is simple and plain. The tracks feature two or three well played instruments (double-bass: Nizlopi’s John Parker) and some pleasant vocals, on the whole, do the job for me.
The opener, Time, comprises of electric slide guitar (Walker) and semi-acoustic (Niven). The caribbean nuances of Ben Walker’s mandolin on Fixing To Gamble add to the relaxed vibe of the music. The strongest song on this EP, Newspaper Blues, implies two instruments: Niven’s acoustic guitar and Parker’s double-bass. But wait, the vibrant strings in the background, could perhaps be a cello but in fact are from the same double-bass, played very well and bowed in this case by John Parker and then overdubbed. So really, it’s three instruments in two. The sound of this track is quite remarkable. The plucked bass notes supply the song with a certain drive and the almost lazy melody builds a nice contrast to that. The bowed double bass line somehow glues the two together, giving the finishing touch; the result is a remarkable song with a rather unique sound.
The whole EP is characterised by Niven’s very own musical tone that is not so often found. I was reminded of Scott Matthew’s a bit, maybe James Blake and also Matthew and the Atlas. His music has a spheric notion but still comes up with some surprising contrasts, especially with lyrics that are not always as soft and easy going as the music. I like these contrasts, they add a healthy sort of balance to the otherwise similarly paced soft and mellow sounds of this debut.
Being only 25, this promising singer-songwriter from London will surely come up with more material of this sort. With Ben Walker as a producer he is obviously in good company and the sound of this EP proves that. These four songs couldn’t have been presented in a more authentic way.