"Humdrum Virtue" is the debut album from British songwriter Denis Jones. The album's eight songs mix experimental loops, sounds and textures with acoustic guitars and slightly gruff Peter Gabriel-sounding vocals. While plenty of other indie songwriters blend fairly straightforward guitar arrangements and songs with electronic flourishes, but still keeping relatively within the realm of accessibility, Denis isn't afraid to experiment a bit, adding some odd effects, playing with song structure a little, and even playing his own vocals in reverse during the last 30 seconds of the album.
I don't mean to belittle this album by giving it a mediocre rating. There was certainly a great deal of thought and effort put into this album, and Jones is obviously trying to do something a little bit different. It's not hard to take him seriously when he sings "I won't follow the cliches" during "Two Slumber", especially as you listen closely and notice all the subtle, creative echo and filter effects on his voice. Unfortunately, despite its unconventional tendencies, most of the songs fail to excite me. There are definitely techniques and sounds that I really enjoy on this album, and I would definitely say "Third Song", with its close miked (but not distorted) guitar loops and tremolo'ed vocals towards the end, is a highlight. I'm sure Tom Waits fans (of which I am not) will love "Ten Pounds Of Electricity", with its slow, bluesy feel, crackly guitar licks, and harmonica. But for the most part, I can't get into the material on here. As much as I like the creative and subtle touches in the production, most of the songs just sound like normal coffeehouse acoustic folk to me. I give Denis Jones credit where it's due, but I'm not entirely convinced by this album. 5/10 -- Paul Simpson (15 April, 2008)