by Chris Familton
Edward Deer is a relative newcomer to the local scene yet his age and experience belie the maturity of songwriting and performance on his debut album About Monsters.
Deer’s style is many faceted and on first listen many will peg him as a singer songwriter of the heart on sleeve confessional type yet this is an album that slowly unveils itself and it is the dark and mysterious corners that serve up the most rewarding moments. Deer throws in a couple of covers with Miike Snow’s Animal and the wonderful creeping, electronic dread of Tom Waits’ Clap Hands. He strips that song of its bark and bombast and transforms it into a version that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tricky record. Likewise he shape-shifts Animal into a brooding mediation on self-identity.
Deer’s own compositions follow a similar path in melancholia but not one of morose self-pity. There is a strength to his songs and their delivery, regardless of the sensitivity with which he delivers them. Please Stay shows he has a great command over his voice and knows how to use it for dramatic effect but over the course of the whole album it loses its impact as his singing begins to blend into the mass of indie troubadours out there. That being said, the life he breathes into Looking Back shows he does have the ability to carve out a niche in a post-Elliott Smith world when he gets it right.
The most rewarding aspect of About Monsters is the compositional quality of the songs and the way Deer complements his acoustic strumming with loops, strings, percussive quirks and electronic backdrops. That shows he possesses an inquisitive musical mind and as such this strong debut feels like the first glimpse of Deer’s potential.
About Monsters is out now on Laughing Outlaw Records
this review was first published in Drum Media