William Fitzsimmons is an American singer-songwriter with a deeply intimate approach to his craft: he has no fear of baring his soul to the listener, with this second volume in his Pittsburgh series being themed around a long-lost grandparent. Charleroi is a short and intense personal insight, with delicate chamber-folk arrangements. CD on Gronland.
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- Charleroi: Pittsburgh Volume 2 by William Fitzsimmons
6/10 Robin Staff review, 12 April 2016
William Fitzsimmons, repetitive folkie to the stars, sounds roughly like Bon Iver with half the can’t-do attitude of Iron & Wine; I guess now we’d be more likely to put his gently finger-picked, occasionally string-fanfared sad songs in league with artists like Ben Howard and Horse Feathers. You get the point: a quiet songwriter, generously prolific. His latest EP is one of his simplest yet, taking away the dramatics of his best songs (“Find It In Me”) in favour of hushed harmonies, violin swells sand whispered lyrics.
It has been done before. It really has. But so has this review. Fitzsimmons has a minute dynamic spectrum which he moves about pleasantly: he goes from the sparse and slow “People Change Their Minds” to the spindly “Hear Your Heart” -- his acoustic guitar oscillates around bold electric riffs. “A Part” is all hard-strum sad boy, reaching for the kinda abrasiveness of the grumpiest Damien Rice songs. “Fare Thee Well” goes all singer-songwriter authentic with a downtrodden duet, banjo flourishes and fret-movements that get all up in your ear.
You know when things do what you expect them to do? That's cool. It's not like I'm giving Northern Rail an album of the year tag for getting me home every day, though. This may just be the most predictable EP of all time. I wish it well.
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