Inauspicious but enveloping opener "Encarta" plays on reverberating chords, staccato snares and submerged vocals, gently wrapping the listener in a glowing aura; "Never Assume" follows, its first half showing no urgency to flicker into life with James Teej's distinctive whisperings only lifting the temperature a notch before next track "The Truth." Marshall Jefferson would be welcomed onto most house albums, but there's something wonderfully simple about providing a classic riff and letting his words take over. Tolfrey's innate understanding of what's required to underpin a track is clear, with no embellishments taking attention away from its centrepiece.
As you move through the album—from "Downtown"'s uptempo, choppy percussion to "Mission to Paradise," with Jem Cooke's honey-like vocal drizzling—there's an emphasis on simplicity and form. There's no high concept, no lofty ideals, but in many ways it's pleasing to enjoy a collection without any such baggage. There will be the inevitable voices proclaiming there's nothing challenging here, but there's plenty to enjoy, from "Turn You Out"'s perky licks, "Ya Kid K"'s vox giving attention-grabbing focus to its warmth, and "Distant Story"'s cool and classy blending of Kevin Knapp's words and Jem Cooke's vocals. And "Not So Little"'s dubby closeout of the album hints at more variety to come from Tolfrey in the future. As a whole, Word of Mouth performs no tricks, but nor did it ever claim to.