‘The Past’ is the debut album for ex-pat New Zealander Len Oakes, a storyteller in the vein of Gordon Lightfoot and Tim Buckley.
’The Past’ weaves vocal balladry with finger-picked guitar and piano accompaniment, and wanders along slowly, backing Oakes’ 11 tales of love, lust and life choices.
His voice is careworn, but filled with character, although the vocal ‘effects’ on Working Girl sound a little… eccentric in places.
While stylistically in the style of singer/songwriter-and guitar, Oakes’ music also has shades of rock and blues-rock, even though the main instruments are piano and guitar.
Carolyn is a piano-based ballad, Not-jealous Guy is a bitter morality tale, while the 11-minute title track tells a detailed and cautioning personal history – whether Oakes’ own past or that of a fictional character is left unclear.
Self-performed, arranged and produced, and it’s clear the creation of this album has been important to Len Oakes.
His songs and performances are spirited, although lacking the x-factor to make them memorable.