Band: William Bloom
Album: Return To The Earth That Which You Have Borrowed (2017)
Genre: Acoustic / Folk / Soul / Pop
Standout Tracks: Loose, Gate Keeper, The Last Word, Amaretto, Mean It
Seen Live: yes
- Norah Jones
- Jack Johnson
- Simon & Garfunkel
- Iron & Wine
- John Mayer
- Mumford and Suns
- Death Cab For Cutie
- Gary Jules
- Damien Rice
The standout tracks for this review are different based on 1 simple question.
Are you heartbroken?
- The Last Word (track 3)
- Amaretto (track 6)
- Mean It (track 8)
- Loose (track 1)
- Gate Keeper (track 2)
If you answered “yes”, (then you may be like me and enjoy depressing music because of how real the emotions are) then the tracks you are looking for are 3, 6, 8. These songs will make a broken heart feel like it is okay to open up again. It’s like he is talking you through whatever it is you are going through, except, with his gently style, it feels like he is listening more than talking. You need somebody who listens in a conversation and silently nods? Listen to these songs. At the end you will feel like you are understood. William Bloom’s music is best enjoyed while silently contemplating your thoughts or sorting out some emotions. If you like your music to make you feel; if you like your music to break down emotional barriers you built for yourself to feel safe; if you have ever stayed up late to
talk listen to a friend that is hurting: Then these songs will replenish your hope for humanity.
“The Last Word” has a smooth and gentle melody. The lyrics are very uplifting and metaphoric. I really like the use of falsetto. It may not be falsetto, but the high notes come in mellow instead of crisp like high notes often can. At 3:29, the song takes a turn and swings back and forth, the vocal melody is just fantastic here. I’m not sure what I feel when I hear this part, but I feel it every time. “Amaretto” is another great song. There is something about this song that I can’t quite explain. During the chorus, the 3rd note that creates musical tension. It is addictive. This song will bring the feels when you sing along to it. Hell, just hum to it. You will see what I mean when you get to that tension note. “Never have I been, alright, without YOU no no“. “Mean It” reminds of the kind of music that helped me through break ups. The chorus here is quite memorable. I don’t want to describe this music as break-up music. However, it does seem to give me regenerative and emotional responses. The only thing that I have to relate to it, personally, is break-up music. It’s food for the soul, when the soul is weak.
If you answered “no”, then the tracks that you would probably like best are the first 2 tracks. I feel like these would be more radio friendly to a general audience because of their carefree and uplifting/upbeat sound. “Loose” is a good introduction to the rest of the album. Even though it is laid back and chill, it is actually more upbeat and uplifting than it may appear at first. The piano work on this is well done. Not too heavy presence. Sometime after the 2nd chorus, at 3:22 the piano here was great. There was a spot that I thought was a bit weird though. At 3:31, the vocals here seemed a bit… how do the kids say it now-a-days?… “extra”. Excessive. Show off ish. I’m not sure if it fits the mellow mood. Maybe you want to make the song feel like it is picking it up a notch, but the style is too gentle to try and do something so “breath-y”. The piano was really a nice touch with this song though. Gate Keeper had a really catchy melody. I realize that this album is meant to tap into your feels factory to get your soul windows a fresh wash,
William Bloom embodies what I believe about music: “Music is the sound of emotion.” It’s like spoken word poetry as a performance that is accompanied by a guitar. I had to listen to the album a few times before I felt I fully got the vibe correct. As a student in high school I learned how to listen to music with a focus and depth in a concert setting. Typically there are no vocals, so you learn to listen to all the other instruments and then understand how your own part is suppose to conform into the musical piece as a whole. As a bassist. My job in a band is to connect the rhythm of the drums with the melody of the guitar; Or in other words, to blend. My primary focus is on instrumentation. So the first time I listened to William Bloom I naturally ended up focusing on the instrumentation. The second time I listened to it, I noticed the vocal melodies more. Third time I started paying more attention to the lyrics. Most of you already listen to vocals and lyrics primarily without effort, so try not to laugh at my struggle.
An assessment I’ve made, is that William is a very shy performer. He has a very gently way of playing guitar. He also has a very gently way of singing. He uses his guitar (and other instrumentation on the album) to accompany his vocals. Which means that his instrumentation needs to be even more gentle than his vocals, (to allow his vocals to stand out). But listening to similar styles of acoustic guitar / singer, they chose to mix it louder. Both instrumentation and vocals are at a higher, clearer level. It actually makes both more distinct that way. One doesn’t necessarily take away from the other. William Bloom’s album sounds like the engineer tried to blend the two rather than make them both distinguished. This might also be to try and focus on bringing William’s true nature and personality into the recording. It does seem to make the album more personable. It’s like he is speaking softly to make me lean in and listen more carefully. Also, there is something to be said about sound engineers that keep true to the artists original intent, rather than altering it to make it sound better TO THEM.
I would have liked both the vocals and instrumentation to be louder and more clear, but I can understand wanting to hide behind the instruments vocally. Your vocals are the real talent here. The singing is in the spotlight. It’s very poetic and melodic. I say let it shine! Having your vocals contrast, (not to be confused with clashing) instead of blend, with the instruments will help both be more distinguished, and thus each will be heard more clearly. It is difficult to explain, and even harder to understand. I know the instruments are there in the background to accompany the vocals and it may seem like you want to adjust your vocals to fit in with the music, right? That makes sense, right? If you turned the volume up on the instruments, I’d have to sing louder with more gumption and vigor, right? Wrong. I’m talking about the mix. If the instruments have a lot of reverb or some other effect, and that effect is saturated in the mix, then you may want to have dry (no effects) vocals; or vice versa. I understand that you may want/need effects on both, but you can still make one more saturated, and the other less saturated. Putting the same type of mix on both will blend them together. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but nothing will stand out that way. That is just my personal preference.
Every musician has a niche. William Bloom is perfect for a coffee house open mic / poetry reading kind of place. I don’t think anybody could do it better than William Bloom. His lyrics are thoughtful and heart felt. If you are looking for fast, showy guitar riffs or bumping bass then move along. This is a much more refined, introspective soul searching kind of music. Listening to this album legitimately makes you feel like you have learned something about yourself on an emotional level. I might even go so far to say that it is comparable to meditation.
I strongly believe music to be therapeutic. Nobody captures that ideal as well as William Bloom. It is clear that William Bloom has a knack for vocal melodies. By focusing on the vocal melody, that allows the instrumentation to fully support the melody. Because his songs focus so much on vocal melody, it is equally important to have good lyrics. His lyrics are powerful. Its like a TedTalk or slam poetry in music form. William Bloom’s music is best enjoyed on a smaller, more intimate setting. He thrives on connecting on a personal level. Larger stages will put more distance between you, and the audience. I would not recommend a bar setting. Or if you do play at a bar, play at one with a smaller stage that is closer to the audience. I believe that there is too much expectation in this world to be happy all the time. People go to bars to essentially, escape that expectation. People like to keep things light hearted at bars. You run the risk of the audience having too much emotional instability. It is unlikely that many people will be receptive to this music. I’m not saying it is right, but a healthy dose of emotions may be what people at a bar need, but I doubt very much it is what they want. But it is perfect for listening alone or with a close friend. William Bloom is very approachable and humble. If you see him live, go up and tell him how much you love his music and what it means to you personally. His music is honest. Let him know it connected.