Comparisons make for lazy journalism, but to ignore the Springsteen influence sprinkled throughout Deaf Havana’s new album ‘Old Souls’ would be idiocy. Particularly on opening track ‘Boston Square’, and it’s clear long before that track has come to a close that this isn’t the same Deaf Havana that you once knew. They have somewhat evolved since their early careers, reincarnated in fact. They’re no longer angry, rebellious teens without direction, spitting and getting piercings and having ripped jeans and whatever kids like that do. They’ve grown up, they’re wiser. They probably wear smoking jackets and sport moustaches.
The band have literally grown too, it’s worth noting. They’re now a permanent six piece with the addition of frontman James’ brother Matthew, who plays guitar, sings and also wrote the track ‘Milldred’; a definitely ‘stand out’ track on the album, and Max Britton, who tickles the old ivories.
‘Old Souls’ feels like more than an album, it’s almost autobiographical. Singer and lead songwriter James Veck-Gilodi (why does everybody in a band have a cool name, apart from me?) looks back on days of school and uncool, honest and open about the boy that he used to be and tackles the inevitable troubles and tribulations of getting to be “the wrong side of twenty five”. I feel you, James, I feel you.
I think it’s quite a nice idea, actually, that the band are growing with their fans, and I’m sure that this album is completely relatable to most of, if not all of their fan base, who I imagine have all ditched their ’emo fringes’ by now and are looking for something a little more adult. Not to say that this isn’t an exciting album, by the way, it still very much is. Just an older, more mature, more intelligent excitement than perhaps their first albums seduced from us.
The production is, of course, crisp and powerful, that widescreen sound achieved so well by the likes of the Boss. There’s layer upon layer of clearly carefully planned instrumentation and vocals, complete with choir and string arrangements! Not something that was thrown together hastily.
I do want to say, though, and I don’t care how square it makes me sound, that James Arthur of X-Factor fame sounds an awful lot like James Veck-Gilodi when he sings. Like, proper. This is evident on some of the slower, more wobbly tracks. Is it just me that thinks that?
Anyway, in short, this is a very fine product from a very fine group of maturing boys, and I thoroughly enjoyed driving around listening to it!