If you are a believer that the recorded product should totally reflect the live performance, then you should appreciate what Across The Sea has to offer. If you are a fan of stripped back, no gimmick, acoustica then this is definitely for you. On what, production-wise at least, is more a demo than a polished release, Billyjon ploughs a familiar musical furrow. Nothing overtly new in delivery, but then it has always been about the quality of the songs and the poeticism of the lyrics with this lad.
Wandering a path that neither strays too far into sentimental predictability not feels the need to follow the fickle nu-folk fashions and go all “Frank Turner” on you, he peddles a sound and a style that could fit anywhere in the last half century, it’s tradition rather than trend that this work is built on.
Lyrical I find that This World Will Burn is the song that stays in the recall long after the disc has stopped spinning, the charged resonance of the words more than anything carrying out the lions share of the work, proof positive that if you get the basics right you don’t have to dress songs up in unnecessary frippery.
One of the joys of such a stripped down approach is that I find my mind filling in the spaces with additional unrecorded instruments. Add a sweeping cello to Stand By Me and you are heading into Damien Rice territory, power chords to You Miss Me and it is a stripped back punk ballad as per Billy Joe Armstrong in restrained solo outing mode.
In a world of auto-tune, over production and high gloss, you may have forgotten what one man and a guitar actually sound like. In all its unabashed rawness and straightforward delivery, Across The Sea is a wonderful reminder.