Evans McRae “Only Skin”

Independent, 2021

Songwriting duo team up for an album of intense, emotional ballads.

Lowri Evans and Tom McRae are both writers and performers in their own right; but, having met on a songwriter’s retreat, they decided to write together. Initially the aim was to write for other artists, but having crafted a body of work of which they were rightly proud they recorded and released ‘Only Skin’ themselves.

Difficult to pin down in terms of genre. These are songs that quietly convey intense emotions across a range of styles touching on folk, pop ballads and alternative rock. Title track ‘Only Skin’, for instance, is led by Evans’ big voice above acoustic strumming with McCrae adding subtle harmonies exploring the fragility of life and love: “It’s only my bones… Only my soul… Only skin, keeping it all in”. ‘Careful’, however, indicates a change of direction taking a much more pop-rock approach with driving percussion, electric instrumentation and McRae’s urgent vocals, like a down-beat, hushed Daltrey.

Sleep With One Eye Open’ takes a similar pop-rock approach, this one with lead vocals from Evans, trading the odd line with McRae, but with backing vocals provided by the Ar Ôl Tri Welsh Male Voice Choir, which adds subtle intensity to this song of defiance following a pretty nasty break up: “You’ll never break my will (sleep with one eye open till the morning)”.

Then we are back with the breathy acoustic style again with ‘Hold On’ before Ar Ôl Tri pop up again on ‘Merry Christmas My Darling (Drink Up)’ which gently swells to a passionate coda. Evans and McRae share the lead vocals. Evans has a classically pure and strong voice, but McRae’s is the more interesting which leads to some fascinating harmonies.

These are well crafted, intense and emotional songs performed with a level of restraint which actually highlights the deeply felt passions.

7/10
7/10

About Peter Tomkins 18 Articles
Over the last fifty years I have probably tried to learn most instruments from the guitar to the trumpet, taking in the accordion and mandolin along the way. And failed. But as a music lover I started writing for magazines and websites about music around ten years ago. Personal view: the world would be a better place if we wore more hats.

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