This record charges out of the blocks with aptly-titled ‘Under Way’, a captivating and heady mixture of Police, Vampire Weekend and the Magic Numbers. ‘Trouble the Water’ recalls Steely Dan and early Dire Straits, although the lead guitar sound is all THRaKaTTaK period Robert Fripp. Barritt gets his Gordon Sumner on again in ‘One of These Days’, while elsewhere on the album the sound world recalls Red-era King Crimson.

The band’s performances are consistently flawless, and more tasteful than ought to be allowed, showcasing their subtle, meticulous arrangements with a spring in their step. Empathic Percussionist and co-singer Mishka Adams harmonises Barritt’s vocals magically, somewhere between Sandy Denny and Allison Krauss. The engaging production achieves both intimacy and finesse (I have no idea how they got Steve Gadd’s snare sound from ‘Aja’ on these songs).

There is an awful lot to like about this album, most obviously and endearingly in Barritt’s delicious voice. His lower range channels Simon Nicol, towards the top he mirrors Sting, and in his mid-range he’s Paul Simon, all the time communicating with the chromaticism, class, and conversational, trust-me smile of James Taylor. Barritt’s melodic writing is wonderful – singable, with enough of a twist to be his own. The lyrics are at once openly personal and yet draw you in – tender, inviting and warm (recall Ben Folds’ agile word-smithery on The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner).

Lazy hack comparisons aside, it is apparent through every moment on this glistening, silky album that Barritt is attempting to be no one apart from himself. This is fortunate since the record is marvellously unique. It is genuinely (as opposed to hipster-) earnest – deliberate but never once contrived. There is even a song about queueing (on which the band out-Strokes the Strokes). The closing song, ‘Companion’, is just Barritt’s vocal with acoustic guitar, evoking Ben Harper and the Proclaimers at their most soulful.

The distance travelled since Barritt’s excellent Sundial EP in 2013 is remarkable, perhaps even for a man who has been gigging and honing his music ceaselessly around the bars, living rooms and concert halls of continental Europe. There is an infectious groove to every song, and a pervasive optimism to the record.

‘Now’ was issued as a single cut, but it’s worth enjoying this album as a whole. Albums aren’t fashionable, of course, and Barritt states in his self-penned press release that he made no attempt to be cool with What Would You Like to Leave Behind? The irony, though, is that, of course, he looks and sounds effortlessly cool.

Follow Ben Barritt here.

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