When you read the description of some up and coming artists, you can’t help but think that you wont enjoy what your about to hear. A twenty two year old “garage hip hop crooner” doesn’t conjur up an image of superb music, more suggesting a degree of amateurish scratching and rhymes that are, frankly, painful to listen to.
But Nial Gavin AKA Only Real has managed to craft a surprisingly strong debut E.P. Only Real is a fresh, exciting blend of well thought out hip hop flows cast out like firecrackers over the lush guitar sounds that evoke the majesty of the Stone Roses.
The lyrics are clever, inventive and far from the normal “thuganomics” or braggadocio that one generally associates with hip hop acts. There’s a likable, cheeky tone to both the vocals and the lyrics themselves which on the surface have more in common with an act like Labrinth than Kanye West.
Punks and Potions is the opener and probably the richest and most imaginative track on the EP. Deft hip hop meshes beautifully with some inspired guitar work. The rhymes are fresh and fun and the whole track is very strong, only let down slightly by the gimmicky ending of the song.
Get It On is the most commercially appealing and I can imagine hearing this as a single and hope it would get some air play. It’s the same blend of strong guitar work and good vocals that feature in the first one but there’s a bit less of a hip hop feel and more of a upbeat indie sound here. The clichéd but effective and funny lyrics work really nicely as a part of this track.
Lemonade is a dark and sombre hip hop track that is built around a decent drum beat (that could do with being just a bit stronger) and features some superb vocal work. His vocals are a bit raw in places in the track but it’s still very impressive work. This is quite an effects heavy song too but it just shows the imagination of the young artist.
The final track is a bit of a low-fi way for the EP to end; Graduation is a well crafted track that is nearly an instrumental. Graduation doesn’t make a huge impression but is another string to the artist’s bow.
For a debut effort; this is excellent work that leaves you wanting an awful lot more. Whether you favour the indie style guitar, the clever effects work or the deft hip hop lyrics, Only Real has run up a flag that will no doubt get quite a few people saluting.