Cautiously optimistic acoustic folk rock
Acoustic folkster Tim Crabtree goes by the name of Paper Beats Scissors. It is a name that also explains a lot of his music too. His music rarely chops or cuts into anything. Instead, he leaves the melodies and acoustic instruments to tell earnest and beautiful tales that you could listen to for ages.
It is actually quite difficult to single out specific songs because the beauty of ‘Parallel Lines’ is how well it fits together as a complete album. From the yearning cuteness of ‘Grace’ to the snow-capped jazzy ‘Shapes’, the guitar and the voice stay as the constant whilst other instruments move in and out like polaroids. There is an overarching feel of an acoustic Sigur Ros for me. Not vocally but in song structure. Paper Beats Scissors often builds his songs into climactic finales and his voice will rise up the octaves to carry the weight with him. ‘Shapes’, ‘Little Sun’ and ‘All It Was’ follow this style and it really works. Add in a light piano, some sympathetic strings and you have folksy gold.
Elsewhere tracks like ‘Better’ are more rock focused with seizure percussive moments and raw electric guitars. ‘Don’t Mind’ is the radio single in waiting. Reminding me of cues from artists like Kishi Bashi, Paper Beats Scissors lets the strings do the talking and heavy lifting to make the track emotive. ‘Half Awake’ follows a similar mood whilst ‘Gun Shy’ moves that feel into a acoustic guitar setting. At all times it feels vulnerable and on the edge of being distraught but you never get there. The ache in the music comes from it all being held together even when the vocal delivery implies that chaos could be round the corner.
Ultimately, this is a great hidden gem of a folk-rock album. These are tracks that grow on you with repeated listens and live on the empathy and sympathy that they bring. They say the pen is mightier than the sword – well paper can bind more than a scissor can shred too. Beautiful.
Recommended track: Don’t Mind
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