[Album Review] Dralms- Shook
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Release Date: October 2nd, 2015
Boompa/Full Time Hobby

On ‘Shook’ Christopher Smith collects together some of the Dralms material previously released on EPs (such as “Pillars and Pyre”) as well as treating us to some brand new material. It’s an impressive full-length debut – a moody album that doesn’t quite allow you to drift off in mindless numbness, but at the same time does not demand so much of your intellectual attention that you can’t relax. A clever balance.

Smith is a master at creating grooves that are chill, cool, sophisticated and evocative. If he veers too close to that drab region known as ‘adult contemporary’ then it seems he is self-aware in doing so and keeps things interesting with intriguing beats and a good choice of instrumentation (check out the sax on “Objects of Affection’ or the harmonica on “Shook”). Furthermore, there is a sincerity in his soft-spoken vocal delivery that suggests lyrical depth. Whether that depth really exists is usually hard to tell as the words are often difficult to discern. Not that it matters because this album is first and foremost about mood.

That being said, there are some killer lines here that truly resonate. “This is hell for the weak ones,” goes the refrain in “Pillars and Pyre”, “For the strong, this is heaven on Earth.” This criticism of the world that God has made for us is underscored by Smith’s dramatic utterance of the line, “He sure let us down.”

Smith doesn’t exactly break any new ground, but he doesn’t follow a well-beaten path either. While it would be a stretch to call ‘Shook’ challenging, there is just enough depth to satisfy the discerning.