Howie Beck’s self-titled third album is intimate and honest in the best kind of way; his acoustic folkpop sound is natural and unassuming. Beck wrote, produced and recorded all of the songs in addition to playing almost every instrument. With this much involvement, it is clear why the album is selftitled — the album is Beck.
Whether he longs for a “Zombie Girl” or encounters suicide in “Floating,” Toronto native Beck has a vulnerability in his voice that is appealing and almost comforting. The majority of his songs deal with love, loneliness and betrayal. Subtlety is the key to his music and it really works for him.
Beck and his guitar are at the core of the album, but he adds a little something extra to each song to create dimension. The use of a synthesizer in “Sometimes” lends to a new-wave pop sound, whereas the banjo in “We Waited” generates a country effect (think driving on a country road in the summertime). Beck’s second single off the album, “Don’t Be Afraid,” is a toe tappin’ pleaser with the potential to start a following.
There are many sellouts in the entertainment world, as Beck tells us in “Everybody Sold Out,” but it’s clear that he is not one of them. With an album as genuine as this, Howie Beck proves that taking the independent road requires more effort but is unquestionably worth it in the end.