Folk duos are a pretty common occurrence in the modern music scene. So common, in fact, that it can be pretty hard to stand out from the ever-increasing number. This is the main issue that faces brothers Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor, professionally known as Hudson Taylor, with their debut album Singing For Strangers.
It’s unfortunate, then, that the first quarter of the album doesn’t really do anything to raise expectations. The songs are all somewhat plain by folk-pop standards, featuring a lot of acoustic guitar strumming and light drum beats with a few hand claps for good measure. It gets to the point where by the time you get to World Without You, they’re throwing inspirational lyrics into their songs as well just to further reinforce the stereotype.
Added on top of this is a tendency for the vocals to lean towards shouting rather than singing. It makes the songs sound somewhat awkward, mixing the folk instrumentals with this singing style. What could have been a saving grace instead only helps to make it less enjoyable.
While there are a few moments that sound like they’ll lead towards something different, such as the initially more rock-focused sound of Care that also featured less shouting and more singing, by the time the chorus comes around it’s usually reverting right back to the usual formula. By the time the album ends, it just offers the realisation that the initial impression the first four tracks left was spot on.
The only song to really break this mould, which is also the most enjoyable on the album, is Don’t Tell Me. While it’s still got the shouting, there’s a noticeable blues influence in the music that uses it to its advantage. It’s unfortunate that this is the only time the album breaks out of its comfort zone, because it’s actually a great song.
Singing For Strangers can only be called a disappointment. Rather than taking the chance to do anything interesting, the album simply sits in one space and stays there for the entire time. Each song shares the same flaws and general annoyances, which simply magnifies them and makes the album that much harder to listen to. There’s nothing that makes them stand out here.