Label: independent release Website: www.myspace.com/aliwhitton Ali Whitton is clearly a talented musician and songwriter. From the initial few bars of the first track "Black Dog" on his sophomore album The Boy Who Lived And Died In Vain, the musicality is compelling, and in places genuinely touching. Sounding at times like Conor Oberst’s little brother, where this album suffers is in the vocal. His young voice seems out of it’s depth and lacking weight on the more upbeat tracks. Particularly on the title track “The Boy Who Lived and Dies in Vain”, it cries out for a few guttural growls the likes of Broken Records or The Frames deliver to such great effect. “Ghost Train” is where Whitton’s vocals seem most at home – a delightful hook laden folk love song which hovers just the right side of saccharin. It is followed on the album by “Pieces of Hell Blues”, a slightly too obvious nod to Dylan’s “Tombstone Blues”. It is a great romping folk blues track, but would be infinitely better if Whitton had a heavier vocal weight. Someone give this boy some Malboro reds and a whiskey! Next up is the ethereal ballad “Folklore Heroine” which is nice enough, but left me feeling a little confused as to what Whitton was trying to achieve with this album. His style just a little too confused and confusing – don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of musical diversity, but this album is just a little too all over the place in terms of style for it to feel like a cohesive piece of work. Just when he draws you in and gets you toe tapping to the folk rock stylings of "Pieces of Hell Blues”, he drops you hard into the navel gazing blousiness of “Folklore Heroine”. This album both shines and disappoints in equal measure. There are glimpses of brilliance but they are slightly tainted by a touch too much clichéd folk whimsy. This is an enjoyable and uplifting album, but if anything it is the feeling that Whitton could do so much better with his obvious talent that leaves you feeling a little frustrated. Rating:6.5 out of 10