Published Feb 05, 2020William Prince has evolved; the Winnipeg-based artist's sophomore album, Reliever, the followup to his Juno-award winning debut Earthly Days, moves beyond the minimal, stripped-down approach of his early work and offers listeners a tastefully produced collection that is nuanced, precise and inviting.
The album as a whole is a cohesive listening experience, but this comes at the expense of it verging on repetitive; thankfully, there are interesting moments sprinkled throughout to keep listeners engaged. The instrumental break in "Leave it by the Sea" amplifies the subsequent lyrical crescendo, and the soaring synth solo in "Old Souls" is an unexpected but welcome surprise. Every song is produced with thoughtful dynamics that add to the album's overall feel.
"Lighthouse" is the album's strongest track. This is Prince at his best: his rich, gentle vocals perfectly capturing the spirit behind his heartfelt lyrics. The song is a tear-jerker; it's an earnestly sentimental, yet decidedly not sappy, a love song that is destined to be a "first dance" choice for newlyweds across Canada.
Reliever is a happier, more hopeful and optimistic listening journey than Earthly Days. It's casually upbeat — a laidback conversation with an artist who's wise beyond his years. Prince still has stories to tell, but he's switched gears. Previously, the artist found strength in his vulnerability; here, Prince offers himself as an anchor for those feeling rudderless. This is the artist at his most inspirational, thankful and powerful. (Six Shooter)