Mentioning Nick Drakes in singer-songwriter reviews has become a cliché of epic proportions but with Hjalte Ross it’s simply unavoidable because not only has he used Drakes’ producer John Wood but he really does sound extraordinarily like him, just with a slighter deeper and slightly less fragile voice. The song arrangements gorgeous and are distinctly Drake-ian too, soft, gentle and lush, subtle strings and orchestration with delicate piano, and across the nine songs and barely thirty minutes of ‘Embody’ Ross evokes the early Seventies spirit like nobody else.
Ross’s vocals are blurry and frequently indistinct even with careful listening and sometimes gnomic titles don’t always help (‘Jesus And The Useless’, the title track, the instrumental ‘Company Of A Camel’) but all that somehow just adds to the charm and power of his music. There are loose themes of otherness and alienation but overall the mood is hopeful and positive. In the end, influences and style notwithstanding, this is a quietly beautiful album. Warm, intimate, delicate and quietly melancholic, Ross has crafted something that stands on its own two feet and is extremely more-ish. A little gem.