CLUAS Album Reviews

Joe Chester 'The Tiny Pieces Left Behind'

May 9

Written by:
Friday, May 09, 2008  RssIcon

A review of the album 'The Tiny Pieces Left Behind' by Joe Chester

Joe Chester Tiny Pieces Left BehindReview Snapshot: The album overall left me cold. I was disappointed because it's always good to hear a new album from an Irish artist that is fresh and has the potential to wow, but I'm afraid that didn't happen for me here.

The Cluas Verdict? 5.5 out of 10

Full Review:
I admit, often to others' disdain, that I am a singer-songwriter fan. Rufus Wainwright, Sam Beam, Glen Hansard, Ryan Adams, Sufjan Stevens and many others count among my favourite singers. All have different styles but  they each have a unique, strong voice and the ability to speak through their music. They're my trusted voices, and I'm always happy when I go back to their albums, any of them. Unfortunately Joe Chester is not going to find a place up there with them just yet, not with this album.

I came to Joe's new album with eager anticipation. I enjoyed 'Murder of Crows', Joe's 2004 debut, but I found there was too much going on with this album. The move away from the acoustic sound of his earlier stuff just didn't work for me. The songs blended together and save from a few highlights the album didn't leave too much of an impression.

The album starts out strong but to my mind doesn't deliver after that. There is sameness to it, I'm not sure if it's his voice or the melodies but I found myself skipping some of the songs as I listened to it for the third or fourth time. 'Maybe This Is Not Love' opens the album. It's a catchy track and sounds like it could be a possible summer single, I imagine it would get radio play. It's upbeat and to my mind the best track on the album. 'Something is Better (than nothing at all)' follows and doesn't quite measure up; there's not enough variety in it and the repeated chorus just crawls along.
'The Bodies Start to Move' sounds more like Joe from his earlier work so I was disappointed when the music took over and all but drowned out his voice. 'Fluorescent Light' showcases some nice harmonies with Gemma Hayes. Their voices work well together but again I don't know if there was enough there to sustain five minutes. 'To Hold Onto Melting Love' has a melodic, piano tinkling intro and a simple arrangement. It veers towards a traditional air as the track progresses and it actually works well.

'Why Things Break' never rises above its lacklustre beginnings, nor does'Long Distance Friend' where again I found his voice competing with the music. 'Alarms' unfortunately is my least favourite song on here, I actually found it difficult to stick with it for the entire five minutes 25 seconds. It's repetitive and the least melodic song on here.

The album is one to have on in the background but I don't think the songs jump out at you, save for a couple. I think the length of the tracks also had something to do with it. Four of the tracks are over five minutes long and it's hard to sustain a good melody for that length. 

Celine O'Malley

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4 comment(s) so far...

Re: Joe Chester 'The Tiny Pieces Left Behind'

I've not heard this yet, it's in a middle of a pile of unopened CD's but your critique doesn't shock me too much. I found with A Murder of Crows that Chester has drifted more towards the quality of the production of a song rather than the quality of the song itself. It sounds like that's carried over to this record too. Shame, 'cause the guy is clearly talented.

By Idiot Kid on   Friday, May 09, 2008

Re: Joe Chester 'The Tiny Pieces Left Behind'

Good review, crystallised a lot of the thoughts I have about the album. I'm hugely disappointed because I adored his previous album and I was a huge fan of Ten Speed Racer, his last band. It might be a "grower" of an album but having listened to it a couple of times I got the impression that the songs just weren't as strong as on A Murder of Crows.

By John Doe on   Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Re: Joe Chester 'The Tiny Pieces Left Behind'

Well almost two years since the last comment!

I too loved A Murder of Crows and found it took a little longer for Tiny Pieces to open up and yield its goodies. But it delivered in spades eventually.

I agree that at times I wished for Joe's voice to let loose that bit more, but overall the production is outstanding. When I let rip on a decent system (rather than the iPod), the thing came alive.

Give it another go.

By Daddy or Chips? on   Friday, May 28, 2010

Re: Joe Chester 'The Tiny Pieces Left Behind'

This was my first Joe Chester album, having been led to it by Josh Rouse's Bedroom Classics hour and the single "Something is Better". I really like it. To me, there's enough depth to the production to give the music staying power, since purely acoustic albums wear out with me pretty quick. This album has such achingly beautiful harmonies and melodies. . .they perfectly match the tone of the lyrics, IMO.

By rtdreep on   Friday, May 28, 2010

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