by Sean Jewell ::
Fraser Gorman‘s eccentric country soul record Slow Gum is out in the US today. The Australian Americana musician has found a home on Courtney Barnett‘s Milk! Records label, and it couldn’t be a better fit. Barnett is a Cobain for the new generation and her taste has as much value as her songwriting. Case in point, just as Cobain turned us all onto The Wipers, Barnett has given us Fraser A. Gorman.
Slow Gum expands American folk and country as much as it does synthesize it. Gorman has a full arsenal of soulful instruments arranged to give his work a soft, cosmic sound that will appeal to rockers and folkers alike. Gorman is humorous and virtuosic with his use of words, tossing them around with abandon to create poetic scenery. Rockets, stars, guns and missiles make appearances, but all with a big-rock-candy-mountain feel. On “Never Gonna Hold You (Like I Do)” Gorman pens a jilted lover’s tune, regretting love being swept away as if on the tide, then later soothing himself with the sighting of his ex-lover forced to share the rest of her kebab with a grizzly bear of a man. It’s sad, it’s hilarious, it’s amazing.
Gorman’s appreciation of American music is extensive, even channeling ’60s counter culture folk on “Dark Eyes,” cooing doo-doo-doo’s about his fallen angel object of affection. He acknowledges Hank on the twist-taking murder ballad “Shiny Gun,” his most radio-friendly jam, in which he murders his own emotions, and calls others to join him on the way down. The song combines all the best things about the album, sing-along silliness, growling electric, a backing chorus, and rocking violin. Likewise, the Americana is strong on jams like “My Old Man” and “Broken Hands.” His opener “Big Old World” is a soft song to begin with, but its mood-setting folk opens the album nicely.
Gorman holds his own on soul tunes too, regularly leaning on the Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes for effect. He’s best on “Book of Love,” pining hopelessly for love, becoming infatuated with the simplest interactions, hoping beyond hope that even though his love is moving to New York he can sell a painting and visit one day, despite the fact that she brings her rock ‘n’ roll hating mother along on dates. The chorus is triumphant (and, you guessed it, humorous), proclaiming “won’t you be my queen, I’ll be your dancing machine.”
At ten tracks long, the album goes by like a refreshing breeze; you’ll want to sit with it and enjoy it some more.