Hugo Valentine – Change

Fittingly presented with autumn leaves falling around Hugo Valentine on the album cover, his latest single ‘Change’ looks at developments taking place within himself.

Opening with the verse, Valentine’s vocals show a clear level of diction and narrates the theme well. Over bright piano chords, he is reminiscent of heart-felt times in a gentle air of nostalgia. Proceeding into a sparse chorus, a layer of strings join the music, creating a small but distinctive enough variation from the song’s introduction.

Jumping into the second verse, the strings fill out the music effectively, allowing the piano chords to take on a snappy playing style, modifying the flow of the track. As with the music, Valentine’s vocals too develop in texture and substance, persistently incorporating additional decorations within the music to keep its stamina going. Throughout its latter half, the music builds up in an unsurprising but well composed style. The addition of female backing vocals adds a pleasant vocal contrast to Valentine’s, diversifying the music’s texture a little further.

Though well placed, the overall composition of the track does feel a little dated, however. The chordal structures played on the piano are certainly reminiscent of 2000’s pop ballads, nodding its head to the once loved style of Will Young and Coldplay. For the track to really prosper, the music needs to have the right balance of influence and uniqueness and ‘Change’s sound, ironically, doesn’t seem very different from 20-year-old pop ballads.

This doesn’t mean to say that the track sounds unpleasant at all, and the production is well rounded too – it just lacks its own identity and seems to have fallen into the safety of producing something a bit too familiar as opposed to daring to try something new.