Two years after releasing his debut, Richard Walters returns with his second album, 'Pacing'; and what a follow-up it is. Haunting vocals juxtaposed with pulsating beats and searing melodies make for some truly memorable listening and ten tracks you're not going to forget in a hurry.
Imagine the warm, ardent vocals of Damien Rice mixed with the intense instrumentals as seen in tracks by Adele and you'll start to scratch at the surface of Richard Walters' sound. Anyone looking for some light listening should leave now, because there is no word to describe this record other than heartfelt. '14 Days' is a passionate song fuelled by majestic violin and piano keys that wouldn't sound out of place in a penultimate film scene, although Walters' grounded and tormented vocal addition beautifully saves it from heading into stereotypical schmaltz territory. 'Mattress Fire' sees the instrumental pace slow with the focus instead falling on the fervent lyrics, and 'Pacing' continues this theme as it carefully works its way up to a grandiose and stirring climax. By the time you reach track eight you'd expect things to be pretty settled, yet 'Black Hair' suddenly steers things in a rather different direction, with fast-paced electro beats supporting pop-esque vocals. 'Where We Stand' also possesses a slightly more commercial feel, with catchy, upbeat choruses leading into breezy guitar riffs and these two tracks provide an enlightening glimpse into another aspect of Walters' style.
Whether it's the tone of anguish in his vocals or the nature of his lyrics, Walters seems older than his 29 years. 'When We're Young' sees him implore the importance of recognising we all make mistakes, as if speaking from humble experience. From the off we are swayed by his vocals and lyrics; a feeling of purpose and conviction runs through both and a large proportion of this is created by the sense that Walters truly believes every word he tells us. This is a crucial element to making successful music that many of his peers could learn from; for if the artist themselves does not appreciate what they are conveying, then the listener cannot be expected to, either.
It is genuinely hard to find fault with this record. Walters' smooth, lucid vocals could easily find themselves overpowered by the more liberal backing instrumentals that in turn would leave nothing but a musical whitewash. Ultimately however, the two elements work in perfect sync and balance each other to create an immaculate end product you'd be foolish to miss out on.