BARBAROSSA, named for the Italian for red beard, is a man clearly lost in a seething, whirling maelstrom of feelings.
I imagine he could burst into tears at the weakest of EastEnders plot lines.
Because the red-bearded bard, real name James Mathe, has one of the most emotional vocals I have heard in a long time on LP Bloodlines.
The London-based soulful singer’s voice mixes the on-the-edge sensitivity of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor with a Justin Timberlake-style control and gift for high-pitched melodies.
This is perched atop of of compositions that sound like the studio work of the likes of Jamie Woon and James Blake, but played live and raw through vintage equipment, droning organs and 1980s drum machines, giving a real atmosphere to proceedings.
There is, for me, a small something missing overall, perhaps an absolute killer of a track, but nevertheless I imagine, for a debut LP, Barbarossa must be pretty proud of the results – in fact, I’ll wager he was moved to tears. He certainly sounds it.