Probably best known for the etheral RnB of single ‘Ready for the World’, Tom Krell (aka How To Dress Well) is for a one off dropping the casual wear of electronic lo-fi in favour of the formality of Minna Choi’s sweeping orchestral arrangements for a four song EP dedicated to Krell’s dear friend Ryan Douglas Hutchon, who passed away last September.

Pretty dark stuff then? Not really. Granted, the first three songs are called ‘Suicide Dream’ (1 and 2 being re-recorded tracks from debut album Love Remains while the third is all new), but Just Once is more a hauntingly beautiful and brave celebration of the value of a life lived than a morbid account of a life lost.

While Tom’s fragile vocals for the most part merge seamlessly into the arrangements, it is possible to catch enough of the lyrics to pick up this positive message, but it is more the style of his falsetto, with joy mixed in with the sadness, that betrays the sense of looking back with a smile.

The new ‘Suicide Dreams 3’ is a glorious centrepiece, and ‘Decisions’, another retake of one of the highlights from Love Remains, offers the obligatory uplifting curtain closer. In its new glossier outfit it is infinitely improved, sounding less like the tinny soundscape of yesteryear to what Yeasayer might sound like if they took themselves more seriously and tried writing something a bit more ballad-y.

In fact, the song craft on show here throughout ensures that each of the tracks have enough about them to stand up as pretty great songs in their own right and not just as a disposable one-off listen for when you’re feeling down. You don’t need to have lost a close friend to appreciate the quality of this music, and it is Krell’s natural ability to provoke emotion in any listener which drives this EP forward into being something that really deserves recommendation.

Photobucket