Rupert Stroud is a singer/songwriter from Ilkly, West Yorkshire. If you’re not familiar with his work, he has two critically acclaimed albums behind him, having been discovered by acclaimed producer, Will Jackson (The Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace, The Cribs etc). He’s been likened in some quarters with Richard Ashcroft, Doves, Ray Lamontagne, Elbow. No pressure then.
‘Never Back Down’ certainly has a post-Brit-Rock feel to it, with Stroud’s pointedly North English accent coming through with pride. If anything it reminds me most of Starsailor, a band I liked a lot. Like James Walsh, Starsailor’s vocalist, and indeed Ashcroft, I wouldn’t say Stroud is technically the best singer – he doesn’t have the sensuous gravel of Montagne or the pure, dulcet tones of Guy Garvey, but there is an undoubted honesty to his delivery.
It’s a track that smolders rather than bursts out at you; musically and production-wise it’s a very smooth and atmospheric and the chorus has a nice unexpected chord change in it. For a single though, I feel it all a touch underwhelming. Stroud tries to get it to some sort of peak vocally into the song but it’s not convincing enough to really make this a song you will want to listen to over and over or make you feel you must, must, must click on itunes and buy his album. It is not a bad song by any means, I guess I was just expecting something more and if Stroud is to get himself up there with the likes of Ben Howard, Tom Odell etc, then he has to find another gear musically and vocally.