Acoustic Beat Boxing? An oddly put together folk outfit.
What really comes through L-Mo's sound is the intimacy of the instrumentation. A roughly wrought sound made of pure nylon and wood: you get every twang of the finger tip on steel string, every wooden hit of sticks on drum skins; every husk of the vocals. You are up close and intimate, in a tiny room with ears pressed right up to this man's guitar.
Then he somehow manages to build digital samples in there - they seem to have been hewn by hand, blended seamlessly with the analogue sounds, adding body and filling out otherwise bare sounding tracks like "Contagious" and “Remember To Forget”, one of the stronger tracks on the album.
Another thing that really strikes you about "Got Gumption?" is the use of rhythm. Eccentric, off beat, strange, off the wall - all those things. Guitar riffs and chords and vocals in defined, tightly executed rhythmic undulations and beats that sound like they just really shouldn’t be! "Simple Living" is a good example with its syncopated vocals, and "Too Bad" is another great one, but it's "too bad" that the rhythm really gets to me on this track (and not in a good way.) "Too Bad" also uses fiesta-inspired guitar riffs and vocal techniques in "rrrs" and "caws" that sound just a bit too much next to that bare and simple instrumentation; like talking very loudly in a library. Still, it’s musically interesting that L-Mo has chosen to utilise voice and guitar riffs/chords in a percussive way. These beats are skilfully implemented, more unique and unusual than beats from a drum kit, and they do add a life and energy to the music. This sort of eccentricity is absorbing to listen to, engaging and endearing.
However there’s a fair bit of the album that really doesn’t quite fit in with this intimate style. The vocals for example, are delivered in a rough, masculine voice - there’s a certain amount of incongruity between the love inspired, playful lyrics, the gentle shining ring of a xylophone (“Certainty”, “Simple Living”) and that voice which seems more suited to a Papa Roach track than the wide eyed innocence of these semi-acoustic pop-lets.
Now about the track “Classicbox” - pleasant enough unadulterated acoustic guitar riffs and melody with beat-boxing over the top? Good performance methods, but I think this needed a lot more thought in the putting together: clashing like pink on green - an acquired taste to say the least.
I’m not sure acoustic is the right concept for L-Mo; the genre doesn’t seem to suit his style. It seems like this guy is an artist who has a lot of technical talent in guitar and voice, and even a lot of fantastic musical ideas; he’s got an ear for a catchy, quirky or just downright strange beat, and though there are a few misses on “Got Gumption!” there are a fair few hits too. Sadly though, he's not hitting all the right spots for me.
(Do have a listen though; you may be less impatient and more intrigued.)