Deaf Havana – Old Souls

by Jack Saunders

To say that bands change from album to album is expected, and quite frankly old hat, as different surroundings or inspirations lead them to widen their audience and experiment with new sounds. Yet Deaf Havana have gone through an almost unidentifiable change in style since their formation in 2005.

For their third and latest album, Old Souls, the band have gained two members and have moved even further away from their angry, hardcore roots to explore a softer and more mature sound. Their recent acoustic tour played at some unconventional venues, which included town halls and the Union Chapel in London, and it has certainly made its impact on the album as the band focus on achieving live acoustics accompanied by rich backing vocals. The tour was made all the more complex by the diverse collection of instruments which have made their way onto the album; Old Souls features slide guitars, brass and piano. James Veck-Gilodi’s soulful voice still sings of growing up, paranoia and loss, though far removed from the screaming days of debut album, Meet Me Halfway, At Least, and instead choosing to make use of dedicated backing vocalists.

Of course there will always be those who believe that change means a loss of identity, and it is true that acoustic melodies tend to stand out less than heavier riffs. However, tracks such as Saved, and Kings Road Ghosts, tug at the heartstrings and display the range of their musicianship. Listening to Deaf Havana feels personal, and with the album culminating in Caro Padre, this is most certainly the case. The band’s recent appearances at Hard Rock Calling and Reading and Leeds Festivals went someway to show their new found maturity and aptitude for the live stage, with James proudly proclaiming the lack of electronic influence in their wholesome performances.

If anything, Old Souls is merely a great showcase of songs which should really be heard live. Whilst perhaps they are still a little unsettled as far as where their personality lies, Deaf Havana are undeniably talented and perhaps this is a sound with which we can become familiar.