Canadian singer-songwriter Camille Delean's debut full-length, Music on the Grey Mile, is a collection of dreamy songs led by her lovely voice.
The story goes that Delean was singing her songs a cappella in a London pub when she met key collaborator Ben Walker, but it's almost unfortunate — that original approach is obscured here. The arrangements, while laid-back, are just a bit too crowded for Delean's mellow voice. None of the subtle guitars, piano, strings, drums and bass here are particularly abrasive, but they cumulatively amount to a slab of soft-rock middle-of-the-road-ness.
Delean's voice could shine brighter with slightly sparser accompaniment (per the Weather Station, or even Feist's latest exemplify), or alternatively, one gritty but tasteful lead guitarist for counterbalance (see: Widowspeak or Jess Williamson). "Black Sail" has at least three or four guitar parts (including bass and acoustic and electric guitars), but could've gotten by with one or two of these, and the string flourishes that come in later.
Maybe, though, Music on the Grey Mile is meant to function as a soothing balm rather than as a source of drama. At that, it's pretty successful, as there's not an unpleasant moment on the record. "The Grey Mile" seems to encapsulate what it's all about: in-between-ness and transition. The way parts enter and blend into each other could tie into the ephemeral theme.
As Delean's beautiful voice is the most important element here, it'd be nice to hear more from her in a more stripped down setting, but for now, this record still demonstrates her immense talent. (Independent)