Release Date: Oct 6, 2014
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Having the producer of a Mercury-winning album on board for your debut can’t hurt your chances of success and James Page, the man behind the moniker, clearly wasn’t taking any chances by letting Charlie Andrew on board. Lending a hand on Alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’ that took the title in 2012, Andrew seems to have the formula for success printed on the insides of his eyelids, not that James necessarily needs it. Steadily growing in following for the last few years, Sivu has graced ones to watch bulletins and introducing stages a plenty; no longer the new guy, he’s got something to prove and ‘Something On High’ does exactly that.
Sivu, the Finnish translation and stage moniker of James Page, has become one of 2014‘s favourite artists, and this October sees the release of his debut album, Something on High. Inspired by Van Gogh’s ‘Sorrowing Old Man’ and its search for meaning and identity, the full-length is a highly emotive collection of songs that question faith, the self, and the everyday. It is rather apt that Something On High has shown its face just as autumn itself has woken in full glory from its slumber.
It seems that everywhere you look in the UK music scene these days, there’s a new earnest young troubadour popping up. Ranging from the more commercial, conventional folk-pop of the likes of Lewis Watson and Ben Howard to the moodier, starker textures of Luke Sital Singh, the emotionally charged, tremulous voiced male singer-songwriter is – at least in certain quarters – right back in vogue. With a name that’s a translation of his own into Finnish and an album title inspired by the letters of Van Gogh, Sivu (James Page to his nearest and dearest) might at first glance seem to be gravitating towards the more experimental end of the genre.
James Page understands the power of emotional restraint. Troubled feelings abound on his debut album – Bodies yearns for a biblical flood to cleanse the world of its ills – but Page, an English songwriter who trades under the Finnish translation of his surname, tries to express them quietly, with delicate falsetto instead of Job-like howls. The production aims for James Blake levels of subtlety but frequently falls short (though songs such as Better Man Than He are undeniably catchy).
Ex-bailiff James Page began spinning escapist pop melodramas as an antidote to a life split between his tiny flat in a grim south London tower block and various dead-end jobs. As a result, the 24-year-old’s debut album as Sivu isn’t the cheeriest fare. ‘Bodies’ is a deft slow-burner, and ‘Communicate’’s gentle brass shows a cultivated lightness of touch, but Page’s wearily repentant lyrics tend to drag – except on gritty highlight ‘Sleep’.