Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.25 out of 5
Yeah, Gentle Soul. I guess that's a nice, peaceful nomenclature for the late 60's, but matched with this music, I can't help but imagining these folks getting a beat down in the back alley. Visions of blood and bruises aside, this is a very adept mix of whitewashed folk/pop and some production trappings from sunshine pop. If you're hip to harpsichords, you'll find plenty to dig here. The vocal harmonies are supremely sweet and dead on, but I do feel an occasional need to strike the cheese alarm. For the collectors out there, there are some big names affiliated with this album. 60's producing legend Terry Melcher is behind the boards while Ry Cooder and Van Dyke Parks make some instrumental appearences (never mind any puns; take the sentence at face value).
There is not a ton of stylistic variations here. Pretty much everything is centered around happily strummed acoustic guitars, with sugary-sweet boy/girl harmonies on top and very light chamber orchestration ornamenting the music. With the opening "Overture," we hear a little more complexity since there are no vocals, and in many ways it's my favorite track here. The rest of the album is like eating white bread for lunch, although if pressed to pick favorites I'd tell you to skip forward to "Marcus," "Through A Dream," and "Renaissance." The happy folk of Gentle Soul come across as a little plain, but there are no major missteps here, and many acts of this sort tend to drift out into the overly syrupy.
This is some very adept soft folk pop, and if that's your bag then you need to hear this. For the rest of us the clean production and assured performances should hold your attention at least for a couple of spins.
Gentle Soul - 1968 - Gentle Soul