It's relatively difficult to pick up the style and genre of Stillman from the first track "Foreword". I am greeted with a relaxing, acoustic style song, which, if being relaxing and acoustic is the only criteria, fulfils its purpose. The deliberately repetitive music does indeed send me drifting off ever so slightly, and the vocals seem to want only to encourage my slumber and not undo the good work already set down by its stringed accomplices. Though nothing from the 1.17 of this track leads me to believe that, whilst this is clearly a competent act, there is anything that sets Stillman apart from the rest of the crowd. The signs seem to suggest that this song is no more than an introduction - I really don't think anything quite so relaxed could keep my interest over a period of five tracks.
Just one minute in to the second track "Weightless" and I'm already beginning to doubt my first impression of this artist. Don't get the wrong idea, I'm still very much relaxed, but the vocals seem to have developed a lot more character. Originally my impression was that this was going to be an EP of repetitive acoustic songs with quiet, delicate, though at times slightly whiny vocals to match. Suddenly I find myself listening to the vocals and instrumental section as two completely separate entities - something I always appreciate in acoustic style music. It is always difficult to convey passion vocally without damaging a subdued feel to a song, but there are moments in weightless in which I feel a certain amount of passion does come through. It becomes apparent in the chorus, that unlike many acoustic acts, Stillman actually does have some sort of music range, and is seemingly unafraid to lift the listener out of their relaxed state by increasing the texture and power, whilst maintaining a somewhat delicate feel to the music. If a negative had to be found, it would be that perhaps the music is still every so slightly lacking in character, this could never be described as catchy, but this is much more like it.
I can't help but wonder why on earth foreword is indeed the foreword. With the third track "The Worst is Over", my earlier suspicions that my first impressions of Stillman may have been wrong are indeed confirmed. Again this track does not follow the tragically repetitive and dull formula that "Foreword" laid down. In truth, the more I listen to the other songs on the EP, the less I think of the first track, I can't help but think I went a little bit easy on it. Whilst the connection is far from shockingly obvious, I find myself reminded of some of the slower Beatles songs from the interludes and brides in this and the last track - and the occasionally Britpop sounding vocals only reaffirm this. There not a huge amount more I can say on this track, I'm quite impressed but I think I covered it all in "Weightless".
The intro to the fourth track "Born for Show" suggests again that this may be something different. A computerised telling me that I'm happy is the substitute greeting, and I'm finding myself agree. Then suddenly, for the first time on the EP, I notice a drumbeat. Normally I wouldn't look too far into this, but as I'm fancy myself bop along to a jazz style drumbeat that wouldn't be out of place in a Jamie Cullum song, I felt it might be worth a mention. And I dare say this Jazz theme in carried on throughout the song. I'm finding myself reminded very much of Andreas Johnson, the vocals now far from Dull, in fact crammed full of the character I suspected was developing earlier.
Last but not least we have "Afterword". The only assumption I can make, is that afterword is meant to be a better version of foreword. Equally repetitive unfortunately, but more of the powerful and textured instrumentals I had come to expect from the latter part of this EP. An annoyingly large amount of feedback comes into play at the end of the song which does wonders for my headache.
My overall view of this EP is probably quite obvious by now, three reasonably good tracks and two others. Sadly I still don't feel there is anything particularly special about Stillman. It seems to me that this is one of those acts that will always sort of bobble around between the local and national scenes, and never make any huge impression on the latter. If Stillman avoid what seem to be filler tracks, then I could well be wrong - here's hoping.