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H! is the solo project of Howard Beard-Marlowe an English musician born in Birmingham who moved to Sweden after spending time in bands Identity Thief and Fly By Nature. The move was a conscious decision to focus on his own music, and the EP, Journey to the Centre of Yourself is the culmination of this self-discovery. Fittingly each song captures a year in his life from age 18 to 24, and because every instrument is played by the artist, it gives the proceedings a special, personal touch. The songs are often funny, introspective, and surprisingly touching as he looks at his youth with both fondness and regret.
Although it’s a self-made product, the production is on a grandiose scale, and it feel reminiscent of the operatics of Queen or Pink Floyd. He does a fine job of mixing emotions from the fun and tongue-in-cheek “Hooray Beer!” to the pensive, melancholic “If You Could See Yourself” with lyrics like “Isn’t it a shame / you can’t rewind your life.” One wonders if the album’s personality quality could have benefited from a stripped down production, but the artist’s ambition is certainly no flaw. _Journey to the Centre of Yourself” manages to convincingly depict a subject which is difficult to write about without sounding trite, and it feels like the launchpad for future, even greater artistic developments.
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