Over the last few years Toby Falla has built quite a reputation for himself on Guernsey’s live circuit for his solo shows where, and Ed Sheeran like, he uses an acoustic guitar, his voice and a loop station to play a mix of his own songs and covers to seemingly very positive reactions.
Since graduating from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) last summer he has taken this to audiences in the U.K, as well as making appearances on stage shows, so far as both Peter Pan and Wham’s Andrew Ridgeley.
From the start of the opening title track it’s obvious quite how much working in a studio has allowed Falla to build on his sound beyond the loop station (an often impressive technical feat live, but not something that translates on record in a multitrack world).
This opener is one that doesn’t shy away from the inspiration of Ed Sheeran (something Falla wears clearly ‘on his sleeve’ both literally and figuratively through his use of Sheeran’s trademark style Martin guitars and even a matching tattoo) with its upbeat, hip-hop inflected, beats and rhythms (also reminiscent of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.) and highly polished pop production.
This production is something that is present across the EP and, while there are moments that it seems to suck some of the vitality from the songs, there’s no denying its radio friendly style.
Following this the tracks on the EP can be divided in a few distinct groups. Stylistically similar to Watch This Space is closer Socialize, while Roses and Where Are They Now head into more ballad like territory and middle track of the five Lady Livia has a harder bluesy tone that is as close to rocking out as Falla gets.
While Roses has a kind of transatlantic quality and a sound that I could hear being huge with the right live production (I’m talking stadium balladry here), Where Are They Now takes on a more mournful version of the form.
Socialize meanwhile is, in some ways, the most interesting track of the set as it deals with issues beyond the usual and, while not entirely successful about it does come with an admirable level of honesty.
The Watch This Space EP then is certainly a very well produced set of songs and acts as a showcase of the range of Falla’s musical skills, not just on vocals and guitar but many of the other instruments heard as well.
Within that though its hard to escape an occasional clichéd and cynical streak, that could be the result of honesty but would be easy to misconstrue if that’s the case and, for my liking, the whole thing could do with a little less politeness and a little more ‘raw power’ cutting through.
But, with this kind of pop tone and a good range of sounds its easy to see why Toby Falla has gained the following he has with his small gigs and this could easily be a great starting point for finding his own sound away from his obvious influences.