Head here to submit your own review of this album.

The acoustic singer-songwriter is an art form that I am constantly falling in and out of love with. For every Kristian Matsson or John Darnielle there are a thousand twenty-something whining shit-eaters who've discovered that C, F and Am is all they need to soundtrack their fantasised emotion angst (read: that person they like doesn't like them back, boo-fucking-hoo). At its worst, it's filled with repetitious emotional tropes and sickening delicacy, but at its best it gives outstanding songwriting space to breathe and flourish, the best recent example being Benji by Sun Kil Moon (an album I still can't go a week without listening to). Charlie Cunningham isn't in Mark Kozelek's league just yet, but he certainly is a welcome additional to this overpopulated and often underwhelming genre.

Previous releases from Charlie Cunningham have featured a distinct latin flavour, a tendency that derives from two years spent in Sevilla. Now a native of London, Cunningham's percussive style of playing on his slender classical guitar brings a Spanish flair to his songwriting. The EP begins with title track 'Breather' and a flourish of upbeat strumming culminating with a drop in tempo, switching from bittersweet to downright dispiriting. 'Lessleg' hardly scores points for originality with its wistful imagery and chilling backing vocals, yet the melody lilts and sways like one of Joey Burns' desert waltzes. His vocal intonation feels familiar yet mixed with his style of guitar playing gives the EP a wonderful Mediterranean/London hybrid quality; Costa del Shoreditch if you like.

Mention of snow covered bones and pre-emptive violence create an even more chilling atmosphere on 'Long Grass'; despite the influence of the Spanish sun on Cunningham's playing style, Breather certainly is cold and remote release. EP closer 'Own Speed' mercifully ends on a slightly brighter note. Seemingly taking a leaf out of Bon Iver's book, the track thrives in its intimacy yet comes to life with backing harmonies and sparse instrumentation. The track ends with a sudden stop, leaving you nourished yet unsated.

Cunningham's strength is knowing how to leave listeners wanting more: vocal melodies linger, songs end before reaching their natural resolution, an echo increasing in volume and resonance. The additional flourishes of vocals, xylophones and atmospherics are welcome, but it's a firm reminder that bare-bones can be bold, and in a year in which even the often bombastic Sufjan Stevens is going back to basics, Charlie Cunningham might be onto a winner here.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.