Awake at Night, the debut EP from Dublin based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ross Nevin, with accompaniment from accomplished guitarist/arranger Paul Gordon, is described by the man himself as a ‘glimpse’ of a larger project which he hopes to develop in the near future.  A musician who seems to be able to apply himself equally competently to a very diverse range of instruments, the songs themselves seem to reflect this, spanning the genres of jazz and folk with slight hints of more popular and possibly even classical undertones

The EP begins with the understated “Circles”, a smooth jazzy number which is dominated by some very beautiful major sixth guitar chords. The pace is set quite slow, but constant on an offbeat tempo, goading you into coming along for the ride, as Ross himself asks you to “take it as it comes and goes”. It is immediately recognisable that this young artist has educated himself on the works of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Tom Waits.

The next track “In The Dust” carries on this intriguing mix of jazz and folk, yet still retaining a very contemporary sound that would suit a sunny day in California as much as it would a rainy day in Dublin. His voice has a beautifully understated tone to it which reminds the listener of the soothing vocal tones of James Taylor or Mic Christopher; subtle yet moving, and beautifully layered. The wood and reed instruments ornament this track whilst the guitar moves from driven strumming to jingling arpeggiation. The lyrics speak of a lost love and are poetic in their delivery without being overly sentimental.

“So Alive” returns the tone and tempo to a more guitar-based one, with the offbeat nature keeping the listener engaged. The drumming is exquisitely complex without being too mathematical, which makes the song very listenable. The use of saxophone is almost classical and could be compared to some of the ideas used by the legendary New York multi-instrumentalist Moondog. Though the youthful vocals and guitar-playing could equally be identified with modern acts such as Alt-J or Fleet Foxes.

The closing song “Winter Eyes” steps in with some very erudite piano playing while the drums and guitar give an almost dance-like feel to the song. Indeed, the listener will find this track very difficult to classify into any genre since it incorporates so much in its rhythm that it could be identified in either jazz or even EDM, but the delivery of the vocals and melody could quite easily have come from the oeuvre of a piano balladeer. This, like the rest of the EP, does not need to force itself down the ear of the listener, preferring to charm its way in without any effort.

If this collection of songs is only a morsel, an appetizer for a larger project, then the following courses should be even more delicious.


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