This is a review of "Trilogy #1" recorded by Monte Carlo. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2004.
This is an interesting idea. Monte Carlo are filling three CD-Rs with songs, and giving them all away at live gigs and through their website. When they've got some audience feedback on favourite songs and preferred treatments a fully realised album will follow.
CD-R number one has eight songs. The basic shape has acoustic guitar with simply structured tunes sung by one or more of Carl Flattery (who writes them), Holly Jain and Simon Dooley. Some lead electric guitar is usually added in the second half. They're really quite pretty. The guitars are crisply recorded and deftly played. The voices are tuneful and convincing. Some keyboard and programming activity is offered on some tracks and a melodica solo decorates "I Will Bless the Feet"; but the general pattern remains the same. Each song is built on a guitar figure, a little harmonic movement through standard guitar chords, with the tune based on some yearning melodic exploration of what comes most naturally to mind.
The lyrical themes are a little anguish and a little hope. "You pretend that she's still yours" is a line in "You May Know the Words" that captures the general approach. It is promising stuff. But it is a sketch book of ideas that will gradually shape itself into a more distinctive sound and one or two much stronger songs. Carl will gradually discover that difficult truth that a passionate person can write an infinite number of songs that sound OK. One song that mugs a stranger and does something that really connects is much more elusive. This bundle of eight is a start, but several listens later I'm afraid I have to report that the style is more memorable than the songs themselves.