Saturday, 3 November 2012

Aiden Grimshaw; Misty Eye - Track by Track Review

Aiden Grimshaw was always one of the more interesting acts who tried and failed on the X Factor. After a surprisingly early exit from the show, nothing was heard from him for a couple of years but then this summer, Aiden returned with his spectacular debut album 'Misty Eye'. This is one of those albums that you can listen to from start to finish without skipping a track, due to the atmosphere created by Aiden's unusual voice and the striking blend of dubstep combined with the piano. 'Misty Eye' hasn't performed as well as I would have expected commercially but then the style of the album isn't typical pop by any means and I think Aiden has deliberately tried to distance himself from the manfactured pop scene. His individual style is evident on every track here and so it should be, as Aiden co-wrote most of the album. Read on for a track by track analysis of 'Misty Eye', with the audio included for my favourite picks.

1) Hold On - The opening track of 'Misty Eye' sets the album's tone, with atmospheric verses that build into an epic chorus about holding onto who you are while struggling not to lose yourself. Subtle X-Factor reference anyone?

2) Is This Love? - This lead single grabbed me on first listen due to its haunting vocals about trying not to be suffocated by love. The dubstep elements of the production really set it apart from what's mostly in the charts right now and I can't get enough of this song or the numerous remixes that are available to download. Just don't try to sing along to it! I really respect how Aiden deliberately did not make the promo video about himself but I have a feeling that ultimately, this may partly be the reason why the single didn't sell as well as it should have. 

3) What We Gonna Be? - Featuring a guest rap from British rapper Smiler - no I'd not heard of him either - this song about going for what you want in life is one of the album's few uptempo tracks and has a great edge to it. Could potentially be a single.

4) Misty Eye - This beautiful piano led track is my favourite song on the album and although it has a slow pace, I would hesitate to actually call it a ballad due to its strange melancholic tone . Lyrics about being rejected and lied to could come across as a bit emo but I found the raw emotion of Aiden's vocals make it feel far more genuine than that. I bloody love this song.

5) Be Myself - 'Be Myself' represents the overriding theme of the album, about being individual and true to oneself. To me, this is the nearest Aiden actually gets to acknowledging his experience on the X-Factor in any way but it's never done overtly or in a bid for attention, which I respect. The song is nice enough, with soft quiet vocals but this one blends into the background a bit for me. 

6) This Island - The dubstep kicks in again here, blending surprisingly well with the uptempo piano playing that's set against Aiden's earnest lyrics about suicide and other similarly charming subjects. It's all a little bit emo but I actually really like this track still and Aiden's voice sounds amazing on this one.

7) Breathe Me - Aiden's decision to include a cover on 'Misty Eye' could have provided fodder to his detractors, who just see him as another X-Factor reject, but Sia's classic song is the perfect fit for him as an artist. The restrained, tender vocals and honest lyrics make this a standout track on the album; it's as if Sia wrote the song for Aiden. I haven't heard a male singer so expertly cover a female song like this in a long time.

8) Poacher's Timing - Continuing the mood set by 'Breathe Me', this track is another beautiful piano led song showing Aiden at his most vulnerable. The central metaphor of 'Poacher's Timing' is somewhat abstract but this adds to the haunting atmosphere and mood the song sets. I know I keep using the word 'haunting' but how else can you describe that voice!

9) Nothing At All - Towards the end of 'Misty Eye', the beat kicks in again as Aiden laments a relationship wasted. The female backing vocals add yet another interesting facet to the song and the album as a whole.

10) Curtain Call - For the closing track, Aiden has collaborated with Labrinth's sister Sherelle for an emotional yet upbeat ending to the album. Her powerhouse vocals compliment his own unique style on the song, although I'm not sure whether this was the best track to release as a second single. It's good, but I think 'Misty Eye' or 'Hold On' could have been more successful if released.


It's such a shame that 'Misty Eye' has not sold as much as it deserves to but I think it has found a cult audience which will allow Aiden to record new material in the future.

The deluxe version of the album includes some acoustic versions of the standout tracks, as well as a bonus song called 'Chokehold', which would have made a nice addition to the standard album. If you like what you've heard so far, then I would recommend downloading a copy of that version if you can. 'Misty Eye' is one of my favourite albums of the year and if you're a fan of his voice or just alternative pop music, then I think you should  definitely give it a chance.

Should download; Hold On, Misty Eye, Breathe Me   

Let me know if you're a fan of 'Misty Eye' or Aiden's music and remember to like, share and follow. Thanks again!

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