A Calling From The Shore is the latest EP from Ren set to be released on the 24th of February. This UK artist blends Celtic roots with a modern singer-songwriter feel to create narratives that capture the imagination. Piece of Your Heart was recorded in the same studio where Adele and the Arctic Monkeys frequented, by young-gun producer George Chung. With the success of Piece of Your Heart, Chung and Ren have planned more projects for the rest of the year. In fact, Ren is going to be quite busy in 2017 with his upcoming tour of Europe, playing in France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland then back to his home country where he’ll finish off at Camden’s Green Note in London.
The EP begins with All That I Need, a simply strummed but excellently built piece. The first verse and chorus have Ren singing a beautiful melody accompanied by a guitar, with the rest of the instruments slowly introduced after. Broken chords were used quite frequently in this EP. Although both Piece of Your Heart and The Coast were suited to the technique, I felt as though it became a little too predictable, especially when tracks with the same sort of vibe were put next to each other. I enjoyed the way the guitar followed the melody on the lyrics ‘I know she hears it too’, playing the notes an octave higher than they were being sung. It’s an excellent way of highlighting a section or phrase that you want listeners remember.
The drumming pattern in The Coast was not what I was expecting, but it was a pleasant surprise and gave a slight reprieve from the similar sounding tracks. Late Night Drive was much more country than I expected from the artist, with the electric guitar solo an excellent and classic addition to the musical style. I think My Heart Belongs to Ireland was the stand out track. I would have liked to see it as the first or second track on the EP, with Late Night Drive as the third or fourth to break up the slower, more singer-songwriter pieces. There was a hint of a mixolydian or dorian mode in the last track which I would have liked to hear more of, but the cello sound was a great way to bring out the folky feel of the tune.
Overall, I think Ren needs to expand on his sound. Although the Ed Sheeran-like style is quite popular at the moment, there is a danger of it being overdone. Ren does have a unique take on the singer-songwriter genre but there needs to be more of a balance between slow, broken chord songs and upbeat, feel-good tracks. I give the EP 8/10.