Drowsy – Growing Green

Growing Green

Growing Green is the debut effort of 22-year-old Finnish singer/songwriter Mauri Heikkinen, who is the sole force behind Drowsy. The album is a collection of 14 mostly acoustic, ambient, bedroom folk tunes recorded at home. While a couple of tracks employ additional instrumentation and an occasional electric guitar, most are stripped down and bare with primarily acoustic guitar strumming, piano, and Heikkinen’s unique, wispy drawl.

It is Heikkinen’s voice that gives these tunes their identity. He predominantly sings in a hushed, accented whisper doused in reverb, and the result is comparable to the likes of Robert Wyatt. But unlike Wyatt, who sounds even more intense when singing in the high registers, Heikkinen detracts from the music as he struggles to reach the high notes and sounds too strained and off-key when he does. Additionally, he tends to slur his words a lot and can sound like a drunken sailor or a subdued, not-so-gruff Shane McGowan.

Musically, the songs all follow the same folky formula of Heikkinen singing to slowed-down, lo-fi, piano-based tunes with acoustic guitar strumming that grows old after a while. While they are not necessarily bad, they are just not varied enough to keep things interesting. The tunes that break from this mold are “Bright Dawn,” which has an upbeat tempo and utilizes a fuzzed-out electric guitar lead and a Dylan-esque chorus; “No Footprints to Trail,” which could pass for a Coldplay B-side; and the instrumental track “Great Scintillates,” whichincludes bells or xylophone on top of more inventive guitar picking. The album as a whole has an unpolished feel to it since it is essentially a home recording with squeaking guitar strings, breathing, and the occasional stray sound finding their way into the mix. Distortion is added in a few places where the input levels were set too high.

The few standout tracks mentioned above expand on the basic lo-fi formula by including some additional instrumentation and tempo changes, but overall they do not excite the ears enough to make repeated listening of the disc worthwhile. This will undoubtedly make the listener drowsy. These songs would profit from refining the vocals, elaborating on some of the nicer piano playing, and recording in a studio with an experienced engineer. Look to the RIYL if you want truly eclectic ambient, acid-folk music with unique vocal stylings.