In the same way that England’s Sleaford Mods aren’t exactly mods, their fellow countryman Daniel Woolhouse’s nom de plume Deptford Goth is misleading — there are no deep voiced melodramatics here. Last year’s debut Life After Defo featured the kind of softly sung electronic music that’s become its own 21st-century trend, in the same vein as acts like James Blake and How to Dress Well.
That said, the result was often a bit formless, a demonstration of technique more than a memorable voice. But on Woolhouse’s follow-up, Songs, there’s a greater sense of focus, a feeling that he’s trying to aim for work that lingers on songs like “The Lovers” and “Two Hearts.” There are moments where the arrangements transcend prettiness and approach profundity: The gentle horns on “A Circle” swell beneath one of Woolhouse’s better lines, “English sunsets trembling before you,” sounding slightly dreamy but grounded.
That said, Deptford Goth remains a work in progress and Songs isn’t the remarkable step forward it should be. He sounds hesitant at points — “We Symbolise” could be a Coldplay-level piano ballad in other hands, but Woolhouse seems to be singing only to himself. Perhaps Woolhouse will venture further away from his comfort zone, but for now, he shows us more talent than ambition.