When I received this new album to review, I swore that I had heard the name Ivan Beecroft before. Indeed I had. Searching back through the many music reviews on Swept I came across a review of Beecroft’s single ‘Believe‘. This was the man I compared to both Florida Georgia Line and Guns’n'Roses. Well, that was back in April of this year. I am happy to report that much of that comparison still stands and I have now a review here for you of the album in which ‘Believe‘ appears.
‘Whatever‘ people feel inclined to say about some straightforward, rough and tumble rock, Beecroft opens this album with a grit that I have to say I didn’t really expect. I plead ignorance to many of his previous releases, so I guess I wasn’t sure what I expected. I suppose something more akin to the single I had reviewed earlier this year. I have to say that no ‘Sleepwalker‘ I’m aware of rocks out this hard. Certainly a great way to pull people into the album; with a heavy dose of high energy rock. If there’s one gripe I might have with the track, it’s the abruptness with which it stops. I think the fade could have afforded the listener a bit more time to enjoy the bookended riff.
Beecroft may very well have a thing or two to say to me after the review of this album and he may want to ‘Say It To My Face‘, but all I can be is honest. And I must say that the album motors on in what appears to be his signature ready-to-rock riffs. Nothing wrong with that at all. I have to say that I was worried about a bit of a Kashmir rip off when the next track crept in. Now, it’s true…’You Can’t Take My Soul‘, but you can take the soul out of a song fairly easily. Thankfully, this track took an unexpected turn from the intro that made up for the rather reminiscent guitar climb.
Now, I might have a bit of a reputation for being kind of an ass when writing these reviews, but I like to think that I make up for it with some degree of wit and some sound advice (get it? “sound” advice…because it’s a music review?). Anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ivan Beecroft has ‘Got A Reputation‘ for being a bit of a hard rocker. And if that’s not the case, then I think he should promote that aspect of his character a bit more. When he’s wailing out those basic rock riffs I think he and the listener are the most at home. It’s classic. It’s modern. It’s pounding. It’s fun.
Now, it’s when we get to those lovely, upbeat, but soft tunes that I start to take a bit of an issue. Now I don’t really care what ‘She Said‘ because I ‘Believe‘ that the piano work between these two tracks is far too similar in progression to be back-to-back in the playlist. I played it back and forth a couple of times and I think they are far too similar in composition to have so close. Unless that was intentional, but then I might be inclined to make more of an obvious connection to the tracks.
I have to say though, that ‘How Do You Sleep Tonight‘ is a great ballad with some quirky timing, fun key work and a strangely upbeat quality to it that just makes the track wonderfully interesting. The string work backs up the balladic qualities of the song, but Beecroft doesn’t dare to soften his voice; keeping an interesting amount of tension in the song. I liken it to some of the wonderful stress rock that one might expect from Rick Springfield. This may very well be my favourite track on the album.
‘Broken Wing‘ is not the first song on the album to have some environmental and ambient sounds opening it up, but it certainly has the most heartbreaking use of it. When the music kicked in on this, I was instantly reminded of Ozzy Osbourne and thought that, based on the little girl in the intro, that this song would be far more oppressing on the heartstrings than it ended up being but I cannot deny the beauty of that intro. That’s not to say that rest of the song was not enjoyable, but the instant emotional access that the intro gave me was something set apart from the rest of the tune.
I may be a fairly ‘Ordinary Man‘ but I find Ivan Beecroft’s use of vocal effects far from ordinary. It is most emphasized in this track where he opens up the vocals as if he is singing in a hall or chamber of some sort. With the already signature vocal effects that sit on his vocal tracks, I find it almost too much to enjoy the song. Almost too much. The guitar and string work do calm me enough to take in the song but I still do find this desire to mask the truth of his voice very interesting and irksome. I understand characterization in music but I would love to hear at least one vulnerable song where he lays his voice out there for all to hear.
I feel like a bit of a ‘Lost Child‘ when it comes to the uniquely eclectic range of tunes on this album. To be fair, it is all self-produced so it makes sense that he can do…’Whatever‘ he pleases. I definitely do applaud the independent musician who doesn’t care what the mainstream wants. I appreciate and prefer that artistic expression. It’s incredible though how this album shifts from hard rocking riffs to repetitive and all-too-similar piano parts to epic string ballads. I have to admit that I love that quality of this composition.
Ivan Beecroft is nothing if not interesting. I should very much like to do an interview with this man if for no other reason than to get a bit of an inside scoop on just how he works his mind around the flavour of each of his songs. The final track of this incredibly interesting album is a strange mix of Black Label Society vocals, Beatles-esque composition…and I suppose uniquely Beecroft-style lyrics. With ‘One Last Goodbye‘ perhaps I should allow a bit of a word from Beecroft himself.
“The honesty that Ivan exudes on this album could not have been done under a major label; he would never have been allowed to produce such a brutally honest work. The intellectual elements of this album are uniquely woven amongst a tapestry of simple melodies and minimalist lyrical content and exquisite instrumentation…His sound is raw – Ivan does all of his own production and shies away from the plasticy gloss of mainstream production. He conveys the anger and apathy of the 90s with the boldness of the 70s and the 80s, and he does it extremely effectively. Without creative disagreements between band mates and producers with differing visions to hold the album back, “Whatever,” is pure Rock N’ Roll.”
Now, I can’t deny that his work is raw…excepting the vocal effects. I think I will never let go of that. For someone who promotes himself as a raw musician without pretention, I would really love to hear his voice with that rawness and honesty and without that gloss he seems to so strongly dislike.
My hangups on the album aside, Ivan Beecroft’s ‘Whatever‘ is definitely an interesting album that deserves a listen. So why not head on over HERE to take a listen to the album and learn more about Beecroft and his unique brand of rock.