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REVIEW: Acer Maple’s ‘Early EP’


Last month I featured a video from Acer Maple for their song ‘This Is’ off of their Early EP. The track, featuring Sharlene Hector on vocals, was a beautiful slice of folk-soul which illustrated the old adage that sometimes ‘less is definitely more’. Now I’ve had chance to listen to more of their material which follows in a very similar vein.

Acer Maple comprises guitarists Dave Austin and Danny Fisher at the helm, with Richard Spaven (Drums), Neville Malcolm (bass), Chris Eldred (keys) and Sharlene (vocals) completing the line-up. The duo have been working together for the last 15 years and between them have worked with a ‘who’s who’ of the London soul set, including Tawiah, Bembe Segue, Terri Walker, Michelle Escoffrey, Vula and Natalie Williams. Usually the duo are supporting artists as part of a backing band, but in 2009 they decided to step out on their own, and Early is the fruit of their labour.

While listening to the EP I was trying to come up with words or phrases to describe it. ‘Organic’, ‘acoustic’ and ‘understated’ all came to mind, however listing off numerous adjectives will not do the project justice. Dave and Danny obviously have an ear for a great melody and choose ‘simple’ over ‘complicated’ whenever the decision presents itself. It works on this project, in my opinion, due to their choice of vocalist. Sharlene Hector is a veteran of the UK soul scene, working with everyone listed above and more, as well as releasing small amounts of solo stuff. She is instantly recognisable to anyone who regularly attends live gigs in the capital (or who has to make do, as i do, with youtube vids most of the time). Her voice is beautifully clear and powerful, yet unlike many who possess raw power, she only employs it when neccessary, favouring a more controlled approach.

Out of the 6 tracks I would single out ‘Beautiful’ as my favourite. I’ve heard this song before on the Kindred Collective’s Pressed & Ready EP, although here a more subtle approach is employed which really lets the musicians and Sharlene shine.

Keep an eye out for these guys as they plan on doing a number of live dates soon. You can keep up to date with them via myspace and their official site, and the EP is available via iTunes now.

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