Abel Gray – Chapter 0

abelgraySomething a little different to indulge your ears with – Abel Gray‘s ‘Chapter 0‘ is a 7 track project filled with intricate, witty lyrics which announce Gray’s inner-workings to the world laid over a series of pulsating beats that would make even the sturdiest house shake. Though I’m not really a fan of rap music I’m a huge lover of lyrical brilliance and this is is something that Chapter 0 has from start to finish.

With echoes of Scroobius Pip on show, Gray’s accent shines through with pride across this shortened album and his lyrics are most effective when they’re down to earth and easy to identify with. On occasion he seems a little arrogant which is off-putting and generally unwarranted, though a certain level of swagger is undeniably needed with this genre as self-confidence can help project confidence and persona onto others. For me, Gray is at his best when he shows the less confident side of his character as done in the opening phrases of ‘Vibe‘. His singing voice doesn’t quite have the power and effect of his rapping yet the melodies that make up some of the choruses on the album are cleverly put together and help show his musical awareness.

Happy‘ is a million miles away from the popular Pharrell Williams track, though it’s indeed an impressive creation which uses delay and other effects brilliantly to portray an industrial, spacious feel and provide the storyteller with the isolation necessary to speak his message. As his rage builds throughout the track Gray’s passion for his art comes out, unleashing the man behind the character and revealing Gray’s true voice. The album relies mostly on a sombre, downbeat feeling and feels like a defeated man’s final words, particularly when he mentions ‘going under again’ on ‘From Inside‘. There’s not quite a linear narrative within the album yet there is a certain similarity that runs throughout and Gray’s sound is distinctive and intriguing.

Though at times it may be a tad on the dark side, tracks like ‘Better Than‘ appear as if rays on sunshine, lightening the mood instantly and – with regards to this track in particular – providing a range of memorable lyrics and riffs whilst we’re treated to some excellent rhythms and wordplay before the brevity of ‘Cavern‘ acts as a brilliant way to close the album. There may still be a little work to do if Abel Gray is to receive a greater level of public attention but the ability is undoubtedly there and there is a burgeoning level of creativity just waiting to burst free.

Ciaran Steward

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