On his first full-length record Hôtel de Ville, Scott Helman shows his age, but don’t think that just because he’s 21, there isn’t much to say. Scott focuses all of his thoughts, desires and experiences into the 12-track album that could serve as the life story so far for the average early-20-something – told only the way an early-20-something could.
Scott previewed the album by releasing a track from it at the start of the year, 21 Days. The song, a tender guitar ballad, is a love story depicted during a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. It sounds silly until you remember all the legitimate articles written about the zombie apocalypse. (Forbes, Centre for Disease Control and Preparedness, and even Christianity Today)
Beyond that are his perspectives on life, both his on those around him. On Ripple Effect, he wants to break the mold of his parents by breaking out to be his own person. “But we can play in the waves of the ripple effect.” Gaslight is that all-too-familiar story about a friend in a toxic relationship that everyone can see except for them.
He acknowledges his own mental health and the ups and downs on both Kites and the catchy first single Kinda Complicated. In the latter he sings:
There’s a dictionary page dedicated to us.
It says some days we’re gonna shine, and some days we’ll rust.
But they left out the meaning, didn’t give it a name,
‘Cause they couldn’t find a word for our kind of insane.
Hôtel de Ville follows his 2014 EP Augusta, which was part folk, part pop, with an emphasis on his part of the next wave of young singer/songwriters. On this album, there’s a shift toward appealing to pop audiences. Although it’s mainly front-loaded with radio-ready songs, the record really falls into place mid-way through with 21 Days and Ripple Effect, in keeping with his establishing sound. Taken as a whole, the album fits comfortably between artists like Shawn Mendes, James Bay and Jake Bugg.
With this album, Scott is bound to be Canada’s next breakout star. It aligns enough with the pop landscape of today but his voice and songwriting are distinctive enough to make him stand out. You’ll be hearing more from him in the years to come.
3. Kinda Complicated
4. Sweet Tooth
5. 21 Days
6. Ripple Effect
8. Chinese Restaurant
10. You Made Her
12. House Key