Ninja Tune/Inertia, 2009

It’s not often that a successful DJ/Producer/Remixer/Party Animal ditches the glow sticks for an acoustic guitar, but I guess that’s what makes Fin Greenall’s, aka Fink, story that little bit different. Originally joining London based abstract/electronic label Ninja Tune as a DJ back in the early 2000’s, Greenall became the labels first folk act with the 2006 release Biscuits For Breakfast. With his third album, Sort of Revolution, Greenall aimed for “something more ambitious than “wow man, you’re so sensitive and deep”, creating 10 soulful, mellow and tender songs that are bound to be on high rotation in cafés and bars across the globe.

The delicate vocals and simple guitar riff on the opener/title track, “Sort of Revolution” sound as though they are building towards some sort of magical musical explosion. However, Fink’s style is understated and thus the song elegantly builds and fades without ever reaching such a peak. Although it feels like it is over before it’s begun, this track still has a lovely ambiance about it thanks to Greenall’s tender vocals mixed together with textual drum snares and electronic reverb.

Swaggering from folk to soul, Greenall demonstrates his vocal talent in the piano heavy “Move on Me”. Like “Sort of Revolution” the song swells with varying degrees of tension, emotional vocals and stirring instrumentals before sliding off into slow and reflective piano heavy finish compliments of guest John Legend, who also helps out on the track “Maker”.

From song to song Sort of Revolution weaves between soft folk/rock and soothing soul/R&B with Grenall even trying his hand at acappella in the bluesy “Q&A”, which is enhanced with deep harmonies and an effective metal pipe beat. Irrespective of their style, each song on the album is overwhelmingly piano and acoustic guitar heavy yet a point of difference is achieved with Greenall’s use of electronic effects and samples (Greenall is currently producing down tempo/dub style electronic music under the alias Sideshow).

The album comes to a close with a cover of the 1970’s Jeff Barry track “Walking In The Sun”. Although the choice is a nice testament to the R&B roots Greenall draws so heavily from throughout the album, his arrangement of the song unfortunately is more reminiscent of Jack Johnson circa 2002 rather than Jeff Barry circa 1970. Why Greenall would choose to deviate from the soulful sound of the majority of the album with this particular song is puzzling.

Aside from “Walking in The Sun”, there are few tracks likely to tear your attention away from reading the Sunday paper while this album plays in the background. The mix of folk and soul influences may be appealing to those looking for a bit of variety, but it is difficult to say if Fink’s variation in style is an indication of experimentation or a simple lack of direction. If you’ve already established a collection of albums from the abundance of male singer-songwriters to emerge over the past 5 years then maybe leave this one on the shelves for the owner of your local organic coffee shop to purchase.

Melanie Mahony