Label: Self Released
„What a talent!“ is what you keep thinking while listening to this masterful record by Will Robert called Transitions, his debut album after two EPs. Originally from South Wales he is one of the fixed stars in the Cambridge music scene. Being one of the most hard working and most successful buskers of the city he has built up a strong and faithful fan base throughout the UK and above as visitors from all over Europe have seen him play in Cambridge and not forgotten about him. Well, you don’t, once you have seen him play. „Mesmerizing“ is what Tom Simkins (BBC introducing) has called his guitar playing.
He has definitely succeeded in bringing in all his qualities as a performer into – his own – studio. This record proves Will Robert to not only be an exceptionally proficient guitarist who has developed a very specific percussive guitar style. He is also an admirable multi-instrumentalist (guitars, bass, percussion), a wonderful singer and a remarkable producer; the latter being the least surprising as he has worked as a sound engineer for many years and all over the world. Will Robert has played all of the instruments on this album himself, except the piano used in some of the tracks. When listening to the song Sleight of Hand it’s nearly impossible to believe these complex sounds with a nice bass line, lively drumming and some lovely backing vocals were created by just one person. The great thing is, the whole song sounds fresh, crisp and natural, despite of the inevitable dubbing process. And so does the whole album.
Yet, there’s more praise for Will Robert from my side – concerning his songwriting. It can be simple and great like in Roads or sweet and catchy like in Castles or complex and deep like in Behind the Sun. Some of his songs have radio friendly pop qualities and some are rather made for the listening ear but all of them are wonderful and warm and special. Let me point to his lyrics in this context – they have a lightness and positive expressiveness about them that is not very common in singer-songwriter music. Some of the songs are softened and enriched by the beautiful piano playing of Isabelle O’Neill. The warmth of a real piano turns out to be a great bonus for the recordings.
Will Robert has clearly found his tone that has been shaped and formed on the streets. Line of Sight (2012) and Mosaic (2013) were very good EPs to start with, Transitions is a statement that shows Will Robert has found his way in the music world. He has accurately chosen what to do and what not to do – there is no blues and no rock to be heard, instead the album comes up with all sorts of musical delights based on elements of folk and pop in Will Robert’s very own style.