Album Review: Joel Ansett – A Place I Knew Before (2019)

Joel Ansett is an artist who has been firmly on our radar here at The Sound Sniffer for months now since hearing his unreal single ‘Cadillac‘. He hails from Denver, Colorado and is currently unsigned believe it or not. He made real headway back in 2017 when his emotive folk ballad ‘Give Our Hearts Some Weight‘ amassed well over a million streams on SoundCloud alone – rightly so. He has just released his debut album ‘A Place I Knew Before’ with the help of a crowdfunding campaign and put in the hard yards touring his material for the last year or so. This man works hard at his craft and this album is one of the most accomplished collections of music I have heard all year.

A Place I Knew Before (Album)

I was over the moon when I heard the news of the album being released and have somewhat slept on it since. The album became my secret weapon at bedtime as for weeks it has been the voice of Ansett that rippled through my headphone before I drifted off to sleep. I always intended on writing this review but just couldn’t find the right moment to pen it. Since joining up with SubmitHub a few months ago, I have been so luckily immersed in the best up and coming tunes, Ansett’s ‘A Place I Knew Before’ became my go to album. I don’t tend to write album reviews lightly. This is a good’un.

The album kicks off with the dreamy and almost haunting opening single ‘Homesick‘. This opener sets the scene with its subtle melancholic feel and crisp vocal performance from Ansett. The lyrics are poignant with the album title line a central topic. It is a really emotive and beautiful start to the album.

We then bounce into the more uplifting pop orientated ‘Sugar Coat‘, which raises the mood instantly. This track shows off Ansett’s outrageous talent of penning top level catchy numbers. The production quality of this one is top drawer, he has got the goods.

The outstanding ‘Cadillac‘ comes next & I don’t have enough superlatives for this one. The song opens with really simplistic, slick and mellow guitar riff, Ansett then comes in with his vocals, which are so natural – no false vibrato, no put on accent, no forced notes. This man just sings in a seamless and casual sounding manner throughout. The plucked bass is to die for. For me, this is one of the most relaxing tunes I have heard in 2019 so far, no exaggeration. I must have played this one a hundred times over the summer.

Emotions are truly back on show throughout Pure, a powerful bass-lined down-tempo ballad. Ansett’s vocals shine through nicely here and also on Through. These two offer a moody and simplistic break and are impeccably well written songs. The plucky ‘Torward The Pain’ then stops us in our tracks with its peculiar guitar playing rousing intrigue in the intro. The song progresses superbly and is probably my favourite track on the whole album. I tend to just close the eyes and chill out while listening to this fella. ‘Toward The Pain’ is as shoe-gaze as it gets. Lovely Harmonies, Nice Bass and Uniquely raw instrumentation. Good on ya!

It Hurts Me raises the pace with a brooding bassline and soulful style. This song reminds me of the work of Darshaan who is playing our showcase here in London at the end of October. It’s contemporary RnB in nature and as slick as an oil spill. The moody Geranium and intense Everday passes by and we are met with the supremely, glitchy ‘Slow Down‘. A real dime of a track, ‘Slow Down’ is a thing of beauty, its well worth digesting with a cup of tea steaming away in your hand. Chilled.

The album ends on the acoustic jingle ‘Dwelling Place‘, with a perky guitar riff accompanying Ansett’s distinguished vocals, this is a really suitable closing composition for the album.

The album is absolute gold – This man has honed his craft, he operates in a realm not many can get to. ‘A Place I Knew Before’ is as accomplished as it gets.

Sniffer’s Rating: 8.5/10

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