The Amplification of Mr. Ballad is the second of a set of three albums released as a trilogy by UK Artist Chapman. I reviewed The Bare Bones a few weeks ago, and for the sake of delivering an honest review had to take some time off of listening to his work because it was just starting to become tedious.
Now I’m back, refreshed, and ready to critique Amplification, which features the same songs as Bare Bones, only with added elements and electric guitars.
Hopefully more fleshed out versions of these songs will result in a more satisfying listening experience.
The thing that prevented me from enjoying Bare Bones more than what I did is still very present here with Amplification. The music doesn’t feel genuine. Everything is expertly crafted by a very talented artist, that much is true, but the album feels like a textbook more than a work of literature, so to speak.
Other than that, right off the bat I’ve got a gripe with Amplification. While it does feature different stylings of the exact same songs as Bare Bones, they aren’t in the same order. This makes no sense to me at all. Not even in the slightest. If you’re releasing different variations of the same songs, people who buy your albums are going to want to compare and contrast the different recordings. Why make it hard? Why mix up the set list?
The album opens with “Hum Along,” which is much more entertaining than its acoustic twin thanks to the added elements. The electric, folky rock and roll sounds good, despite the fact that all the humming gets damned annoying after listening to the song all the way through. “Things are Changing” takes the pace down and presents a ballod-like mood. “The Edge of the Island” doesn’t pick the mood up much, and the slow tempo continues through “That Thing.”
“It Could Get Darker” picks things up a bit with trumpets and a catchy base line, as well as melodically-driven vocals. Things slow right back down with “Salesmen,” and by now the slow tempo is starting to drag just a little bit. It continues through “Give Me The Morning,” which has a more soul-like sound, with backing vocals and electric funk-elements. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Too bad it isn’t done very well.
“Beautiful Time” was my favorite track from Bare Bones, and I was worried Amplification would ruin what made the song so good to begin with. Thankfully it doesn’t. Though it is true that a lot of the songs on this album have sounded slightly gimmick-y, the elements that make many of the other songs kind of lame work just fine here. “Grow” is a bad song on Amplification, much worse than the acoustic version. I don’t even want to talk about it any more. “Yourself” reminds me of a bad R&B song from the ’90s. Things draw to a close with “Raffi’s Song,” which is one of the cooler-s0unding efforts on the album.
The insincerity I noted with Bare Bones has done nothing but become more apparent while listening to these different stylings of the same set of songs from that album. The Amplification of Mr. Ballad can not be called a good album for many reasons. The “amplification” process has resulted in these songs sounding more than just a bit gimmicky. The album wears thin on the nerves before it is even over, and the only decent song is “Beautiful Time,” which was better on Bare Bones anyway. I really thought this album would be much better than The Bare Bones of Mr. Ballad, but unfortunately the opposite is true.
Score: 5.0/10 (Mediocre)