By Papa Roach
Papa Roach continue their mission to distance themselves from their dodgy nu-metal past, with acoustic EP 'Naked And Fearless.' Firstly, I'm not entirely sure three tracks - one of which is an acoustic version of recently-released single 'Lifeline' - qualifies as an EP (surely, it's more of a long single?) and, secondly, once you take away the big, brash guitars, there's really not an awful lot left of Papa Roach.
Why the unplugged version of 'Lifeline' didn't make an appearance on the 'Lifeline' single, is anyone's guess. It would have made an interesting counterpoint to the original version's towering, stadium-rock but, as one third of an EP, it just isn't strong enough.
The major problem with this song and, indeed, the whole EP, is frontman Shaddix's voice. While it's stronger than you'd expect from a man who once made a living rapping along to vaguely embarrassing nu-metal anthems, acoustic songs rely on the singer having a knock-your-socks-off voice, which Shaddix doesn't. The other major problem is the lyrics, which slipped by unnoticed on the full-band version, but are revealed to be thin and cliche here. And, thirdly, the snaking background riff that made the original version so addictive, proves almost impossible to replicate on an acoustic guitar. We get a blast of it during the intro and, although it's interesting to hear each note picked out on an acoustic guitar, it then doesn't reappear until the bridge section. In its place, is the standard acoustic rattle, which sees that formerly sky scraping chorus fall completely flat.
The perfect and obvious B-side for Papa Roach's 'Lifeline' single, but this doesn't warrant space on a three-track EP.
The groovily downbeat 'Had Enough' encounters the same problems as 'Lifeline.' Shaddix's voice is good, but not good enough to carry the song, and stripping 'Had Enough' down to basic instrumental, exposes the teenage angst lyrics to more scrutiny than they can handle. Chances are, you'll be cringing at some of the lyrics. 'Had Enough' does feature a very neat interplay between the drums and the guitars that'll get you tapping your feet but, once it's over, it's quickly forgotten.
The lyrics of 'Carry Me' may be about as cliched as it gets, but at least they bring some genuine emotion to this EP, even if some of Shaddix's plaintively whinged vocals will have you curling your toes.
Most of 'Carry Me's musical bulk is an acoustic guitar that shuffles inoffensively away in the background. It rouses itself briefly for a chorus of brighter, twinkling chords, accompanied by Shaddix's sweetly melodic vocals. However, the overall impression of 'Carry Me' is that the full-band version would be ten times better. If the original version of 'Lifeline' is anything to go by, then it's well worth tracking down the non-acoustic version of 'Had Enough' and 'Carry Me.' But, as this EP proves, acoustic versions of Papa Roach songs are just a bit pointless, really.