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From Burma to the suburbs

July 17, 2008

I’m always going to cheer on the Aussie indie musician.  If it isn’t hard enough getting a hearing on a small label, it’s only harder when you’re from a small country – and not even a very trendy one at that.  So count me as a champion of the underdog, Tamas Wells being a case in point.

I mean, the guy clearly has no interest in musical fame.  He’s spent most of the last five years in Burma with his aid-worker wife – not a fast track destination for musicians.  He puts out impossibly twee folk music about ordinary people dealing with dilemmas like brown bedspreads and crappy jobs.  He tours major Australian cities every couple of years, playing one gig in each town only.

Fame might find him this time regardless, because his latest album Two Years In April is something to marvel at.  Moving away from the mid-nineties-ish tweeness of A Plea En Vendredi, Tamas has brought his sound up to…2004, I suppose.  He’s gone for the fireside, banjo-led reveries of Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans or Iron & Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days – and he’s come bloody close to them for quality.

Wells’ voice is less remarkable than Sufjan’s or Sam Beam’s, but it’s idiosyncratic and totally listenable.  His sing-song, repetitive vocal style is pretty compelling and doesn’t get old nearly as fast as it should.  Wells played and sang almost all the parts and the simple interlocking instrumentation sounds complex and wondrous.  In fact, this sounds much more like an album composed in a shack with intermittent electricity
than the last album, which apparently was written that way.

Maybe after this album he won’t be the underdog anymore, but it won’t make me love him any less.

Tamas Wells – “Fine, Don’t Follow A Tiny Boat For A Day”

Tamas Wells – “The Day That She Drowned, Her Body Was Found”

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One comment

  1. A Plea en Vendredi might be one of my favourite albums ever (certainly, the best one of its kind I’ve experienced), so I am rabidly excited about this one. Still waiting for it to show up in the mail…



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