Review Archive

'Upbound' - acoustic duo, Just By Chance

(October 08, 2012)

Many people prefer acoustic music ‘live as it comes’. They want an album to return them to the first time they heard a band. The presence, freshness, energy and immediacy of the performance, even Upboundwith some unpolished edges; attracts and seduces. Should you fall into that company (and many of us do) then 'Upbound' the debut album from Liverpool-based acoustic duo, Just By Chance is one you should not miss.

Just By Chance are Elizabeth Owen (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Andrew Jones (acoustic and Nashville tuned acoustic guitars, vocals) who they say ‘met by chance’ – good enough for a band name then. Their influences span folk, bluegrass, rock and pop. This mix is reflected in the breadth and reach of their songs. On the album, mixed by recording engineer and musician Daniel Finney, they are joined by Nicola Hardman (piano on ‘Ghosts’). Just By Chance integrate the simplicity of two voices and guitars to weave and layer a sound that’s far wider and deeper than many would first expect. The ‘live’ edge shows through all over the place but that’s integral to the attraction, and never once detracts from the intricacies of the guitars and voices.

The ten tracks (eight songs and two instrumentals) move through an engaging spectrum from the understated intro ‘Walking Tall’ through the luscious harmonies of ‘Pick You Up’ and the deeply stated anxiety within the memorable melody of ‘Tattoos’ to the elusive sensitivity of ‘Saviour’. The instrumental ‘Upbound’ splits into Part 1 and 2 – the first a contemplative island of acoustic expression and the second a scintillating river of stringed exuberance. Then there’s ‘Ghosts’ with mysterious echoing arrangements, elemental piano and spiralling vocals (possibly my favourite track) and the rocky-edged melody of ‘Shame On Me’ complete with driving guitar breaks.

All the songs on the albumare written by Elizabeth and Andrew except the instrumental ‘Upbound’ (Part 1) by Elizabeth and (Part 2) by Andrew. Due for release on 31 October 2012 on their own Searching For Dandelions label, you can find 'Upbound' on Amazon and Bandcamp or at www.justbychance.net.

One acid test for an album is does it leave you wanting more? This one does.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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