LP: Calder McLaughlin – Chapters & Phases

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Album reviews, Introducing
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“Ever the dreamer, ever the believer” according to his Myspace bio, Calder McLaughlin can now add fatherhood to his growing list of credentials. It is a theme that inspires much of Chapters & Phases: a twelve-song acoustic album that chronicles his emotional ascent from boy to man.

What Calder lacks in poetic invention, he more than compensates for with his unleashed, heart-warming vocals: best described as a vibrant concoction of Kelly Jones’ gravel and James Skelly’s passion.

On the title track Calder describes fatherhood as “the greatest gift of all”, accompanied by a heart-felt chorus of “this star will always guide you home”. Rarely, in fact, do his melancholic guitar lines and lyrics fail to strike a chord.

The floodgates truly open on Breathe Out and Lights Across The Liffey: a beautiful song inspired by a jaunt to Dublin during a pivotal time in the boy’s life. Passion gushes from every pore as he confronts and accepts his overwhelming emotions, “yeah I’m in love”. It’s not hard to picture Calder featuring in a Gene Kelly-style video; kneeling on a cobbled street, pouring his heart out amidst torrential rain.

Parallels are perhaps better drawn with Chris Martin or Travis on See Saw, a roller-coaster ride of emotive peaks and lulls. And on the anthemic Conflict of Emotions, Calder’s almost a certain Mr Keating back in his Notting Hill days.

“I’ve always kinda looked at the world from a sideways point of view” expresses Calder, a converted drummer. Becoming a parent has clearly elucidated his perspective on life, but in the not-so-distant past he was a young pretender.

These Streets sees Calder revisit his first footsteps in Leicester: soul-searching while lost on a late night out in the city. Back In The Day meanwhile is a nostalgic glance back at “the glory days” – a reference to his participation in Sheffield’s late 90’s drum ‘n’ bass scene. Angelina is a strummed sweetie to end the affair.

Sat, guitar in hand, in what looks like a graffitied skate park corner, sporting heavy stubble and dark-wash jeans, Calder gives the impression of a rough-slept busker. Based on the evidence of Chapters & Phases, one senses he is destined for greater things. Not even the venues on Pocklington’s Walk could house him.

Visit Calder’s website: http://www.caldermclaughlin.com/

Published by The Monograph.

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