And now for something completely different. A delicately plucked, out-of-time intro, employing a variety of under-utilized string sounds, launches us into an alternative musical world in which acoustic instruments band together orchestrally to accompany a deep-voiced troubadour musing on the profundity of aging. Sleek and homespun at the same time, “Speed of Clouds” may initially hit the ear as an oddity, but settle in and let its idiosyncrasies coalesce into the pleasurable and rather moving composition that it reveals itself, over four minutes, to be.
At the center of it is the voice and sensibility of Paul Armfield, an Isle of Wight-based singer/songwriter with a distinctive delivery, best described as a cross between Cat Stevens and mid-career Leonard Cohen, with a bit of sorcerer thrown in. His is such a different-sounding voice than we are used to hearing that at first it may seem almost primitively mannered, and yet very quickly, as you sink into the song, you may notice how soon like an old friend he sounds, not to mention how beautifully he does in fact sing, his voice projecting a three-dimensional presence that feels especially satisfying in this age of vocal processing and gimmickry.
“Speed of Clouds” is from Armfield’s fifth studio album Up Here, which was released last month. You can listen to the whole album via SoundCloud. Thanks to Paul for the MP3.