Fences - Fences

by Dan Clay Rating:8.5 Release Date:2010-09-28

If it weren't for Fleet Foxes and Kurt Cobain, fans might be flocking to Seattle in years to come to see Christopher Mansfield, aka Fences, as his debut release shows he's a man set for stardom.

A self proclaimed screw up, Fences sees Mansfield in full Elliott Smith melancholy mode while delivering a set of songs which show a maturity and surprising level of deft acoustic softness.

That's not to say he's not angry or passionate at the either self-imposed or enforced 'fences' which give rise to the album's title and the singer's desperation. Either railing against others on opener

- "The boys around here don't respect a thing at all," - or himself on the rockier 'Girl with Accents', it's clear he sees quiet music as a way to counter the fact that in his own words, "I'm fucking up everything."

Thankfully the angst is gone by the time the sweet acoustic plucking of 'Hands' arrives to be followed by the Shins-like looping piano backing of the lovely

, sounding much like Conor Oberst as he sings about lost love.

Cleverly keeping all songs around the three minute mark stops the album degenerating into over-introspection by the time 'From Roses' relatively dull and 'Sadie's oddly MOR feel kick in. Thankfully the album closes on the sweet Elliott Smith-esque

a brief and simple acoustic track which highlights Mansfield's tender voice well.

One to watch now before he leaps over the fence and finds greener pastures very soon.

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