An echoey guitar strums back and forth, idly moving from chord to chord. Another guitar line enters, this one with more urgency as hammer-ons play a slightly delayed descending melody. Vocalist James Spencer Harrison begins a husky-melancholic drawl, balancing between the guitar duality – balancing between the urgent yet laid-back emotiveness of the opening track of Fleeting Persuasion’s latest project, Forever Caught. And in a way, this duality foreshadows the tone of the album to come; a duality between light and dark that Fleeting Persuasion try to bottle like lightning. An impossible task deemed by many, but one that many try. After spending some time with Fleeting Persuasion’s debut album, I can admire the effort in cohesively moulding songs with equal parts beauty and sadness.
Fleeting Persuasion is the latest musical project from Melbourne singer-songwriter James Spencer Harrison who’s been on the scene down in the South for some time under the moniker JMS. Harrison has now branched from solo material into a more fleshed-out sound that only Fleeting Persuasion could conjure. Task Ahead opens the latest project, a densely layered, guitar-filled tune that shows Harrison’s composition ability as the instrumentation moves through musical stanzas; one moment building to a rich crescendo only to be pulled back down to earth in the next chord change. A formula that Harrison repeats throughout the track listing on Forever Caught, taking on a more progressive rock form of composition.
The cuts off this album have a nostalgic 90s alt-rock tinge to them, that I attribute to Harrison’s nasally vocal performance. It’s almost like a melancholic mix of Sister Hazel and early Michael Stipe against a background of grungy guitar chords, perfectly brought to life on tracks Gift and Make Plans. Though I welcome the nostalgic look back at the sounds of my childhood, the performance sometimes sounds dissonant in the more passionate moments. It’s ultimately a small criticism, as a bit of dissonance in rock adds to the live atmosphere often created.
Eyes Closed is another standout track; its brighter tinged guitar work a welcome change of pace after some emotive and melancholic song writing earlier in the album. The mix sounds fuller on Eyes Closed despite the lack of droning guitar effects found on other tracks. It’s also one of the shorter tracks on the album – only just – at four-minutes-twenty-seven. Eyes Closed sees the perfect mix of light and dark that Harrison is trying to conjure throughout the album. And it’s not to say that Fleeting Persuasion aren’t successful at conjuring emotions, it just overstays its welcome sometimes with many in lengthy succession.
Fleeting Persuasion fuse moments of darkness alongside moments of beauty, both in song writing and sonically; an effort many bands struggle to wrestle with, even late in their careers. Though the formulaic song writing sometimes overstays its welcome, Fleeting Persuasion’s success is in their ability to walk the tightrope between light and dark on a debut record.
Forever Caught is available now to stream on Spotify and Bandcamp.