Release Date: Feb 15, 2011
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Folk
Gomez have always been a hard group to pigeonhole, their songs falling somewhere in the vicinity of British folk, pop, contemporary blues, and jam band rock & roll. Shapes & Shadows, the first solo release by bandmember Ben Ottewell, takes a straighter approach. Although recorded in Los Angeles, it’s a rainy-day folk album anchored in Ottewell’s acoustic guitar, with occasional swells of strings and synths that conjure up images of the English coast.
For many a casual Gomez listener, Ben Ottewell's voice is the main identifier. Ottewell's raspy baritone, which has been likened to Tom Waits more often than not, takes center stage on his debut solo album, Shapes & Shadows. Recorded with fellow Gomez breakout vocalist Ian Ball's stable of musicians in Los Angeles, Shapes was co-written over a lengthy period of time with childhood chum Sam Genders of Tunng.
There may be no type of LP more inherently contentious to audiophiles than solo albums by erstwhile members of beloved acts, especially if said act has not already parted ways. The very choice to craft an album without the sanctioned imprimatur of the known quantity smacks of rebellion, dissatisfaction, or at the very least, of artistic wanderlust. Depending on the nature of the original collaborative project, making an album outside of its confines can invite doubt in the viability of said project.
A decent solo debut from the Gomez singer, full of acoustic charm. Mike Diver 2011 Familiar to a faithful following as the most recognisable voice in Mercury Prize-winning Southport five-piece Gomez, Ben Ottewell has ventured far further than Manchester’s Piccadilly station – the subject of a right ol’ whipping, you may recall – to record his debut solo album. All the way to Los Angeles, in fact, where he worked alongside co-producer Will Golden and, subsequently, Liars and Warpaint mixer Tom Biller to shape these nine tracks into their final forms.