ALBUM REVIEW: Angel - "About Time"
Its hard to believe that 25 year old Sirach Charles AKA Angel is yet to release an album. We've seen no less than 11 videos from the West London singer courtesy of various mix tapes he put out over the past 2 years but "About Time" is the first official album released through the Music Week awards "record label of the year" Island Records.
So the first thing I noticed about the album was the fact that the deluxe edition which is only £8.99 on ITunes has 22 tracks. Yes 22 people! Angel and his team clearly realise that his target audience are used to getting something for nothing and have found a great way to utilise some of the previously free music released on his mix tapes/ EP's "Any Minute Now" and "Seven Minutes".
From the opening interlude Angel clearly marks the fact that this 22 song trip is set to be a full on London affair- with hotly tipped wordsmith George The Poet taking us by the hand and guiding us to the starting line. "Paid In Full" is the first time we hear from Angel, the tale of "getting money" manages to sample Notorious BIG and still stick to the distinctly British theme. The track is one of 10 songs that contain a feature on the album- all of which achieve the feat of not sounding forced in for "urban" edge or extra radio points. The album definitely feels like a valid statement from a young black UK male with hints of Reggae and African Hi-Life showcased (see the WizKid collabo Blown Away).
Highlights on the long set include singles "The World" and "Wonderful" which find Angel straddling the line between EDM, Drum and Bass and RnB perfectly. He really does have a knack of creating what I will dub Euphoric RnB! One of my personal favourite cuts has already had the single treatment; "Ride Out" featuring Sneakbo. The smooth summer sounding track highlights what I think is Angels strongest asset - his ear for melody. The choices him and his writing team Parallel Music make show evident signs of US RnB influences- mainly in the form of "vocal bible" Brandy Norwood. Brandy's legacy is all over this album, found most obviously on mid-tempos ("Go" being a great example) but also in the uptempo's in some of the backing vocal production.
Another highlight is the Frank Ocean penned "Rocket Love"- some of you may have heard Franks leaked version online. Angel actually improves vocally on the original demo, but for me the track pointed out a major fault in the album. Whilst it is definitely one of the better UK RnB albums we've had in an extremely long time - it all sort of sounds the same. Whether thats due to Angels distinct vocal choices, or the fact that melodically every song sits pretty much in the same arena- I don't know.
So yes, maybe it is too long. Maybe, the standard version of the album is less filler and maybe Angel should have travelled outside of his stable to gain a different perspective in the songwriting. However, I cannot fault this guy. I can't help but salute a young black urban (in the real sense of the word) male artist who has managed to hustle hard enough to get noticed by a label and stick it out to release an album. He's clearly got a team behind him who truly believe in what he does and I for one am going to support as much as I can- because I believe on the next album, which I have no doubt we will see, Angel will deliver something truly stellar. He's come close with "About Time" and I think for the potential this shows alone, we should all go out a get a copy.