Review: Sam Brittain, “Live Simply”

Image courtesy of Sam Brittain

I initially took the title of Sam Brittain‘s sophomore album Live Simply to be a declaration of lessons learned – a  collection of stories that brought on this revelation. A few more listens and “Live Simply” came to represent an ode to a personal resolution – a goal or philosophical compass for the future. I think there’s a beauty in the subjectivity of an art form once it’s unleashed in the world and becomes personally appropriated and re-appropriated by a listener. Reviewing the album notes you’ll find Sam Brittain has dedicated Live Simply to Nick Balcombe, his dear friend and fellow young performer who unexpectedly and suddenly passed away earlier this year. Sam has spent the last 2 or 3 months of 2014 touring and busking the UK and a number of European cities, a tour he had originally planned and booked together with Nick before he passed away. For Sam this trip, which was meant to be a shared adventure, instead became a time for healing and reflection – touring an album which for which the writing and recording process started and finished either side of this tragic loss.

In addition, Live Simply sees Sam Brittain a few years older and with countless more hours of touring, busking and writing under his belt since releasing his 2012 Our Shining Skin debut. Certainly, it can be seen as a continuation of his debut stylistically, stamping his name and further solidifying his brand of folk music – his simple, thoughtful acoustic singer-songwriter musings carefully and sparingly arranged for a full band of trad instruments and deft female harmonies. Significantly more honed within this style, Live Simply explores concepts of home and origins on a number of tracks through stories shared by people and celebrates the potential for emotional immensity of small things in a large world. Brittain thankfully also perseveres with his penchant for good old fashioned story telling, which has delivered some of his finest work in the past.

Interestingly, the songs I most enjoyed on the album are those that break it from the steadiness of its groove. Live Simply delves less deeply into blues than his debut, but its single foray delivers the goods in the form of “Rats” – the dirtiest song on the record. For me this track also represents the peak of Brittain‘s fantastic vocal abilities.  Other distinct highlights include the quick-paced and dancing “High On A Hill” and the rollicking “Games” which has a peculiar ageless quality.

Olivers Army Release New Single “Golden Tree”

Untitled

Image courtesy of Olivers Army

This year Adelaide’s Ryan Oliver packed up his esteemed Olivers Army project, crossed the border and unpacked it again in the ever-promising musical mecca of Melbourne, taking on a number of fellow Adelaide expats as band members in the process. With a renewed vigour, the band has picked up right where they left off without a backwards step and are releasing a brand new rollicking single “Golden Tree”.  The uplifting and evolving track marks another step up in the continuing development of the Olivers Army sound and unfolds around the tremendous, steady electric riff, and ripens with each layer. The new single is set to be part of Olivers Army‘s third release which is due sometime early next year. Listen below.

Olivers Army have been busy touring the around the country promoting the new track and have two remaining dates at Adelaide’s Rhino Room w/ Tigertown and Melbourne’s Spotted Mallard. See the poster above for details and head to their Triple J Unearthed page to download & rate the track.

Bearded Gypsy Band to Launch New Live Album at The Gov, Adelaide on January 24th 2013

Image courtesy of Bearded Gypsy Band

Timber and Steel were lucky enough to pick up a copy of The Bearded Gypsy Band‘s new live album when they supported Tin Pan Orange in Adelaide late last year, and if it weren’t for the fact that the record wasn’t really officially released yet, it would have definitely been pushing for contention in our 2012 top album lists.

Bearded Gypsy Band may look short of a few rings in their timber, but since I first stumbled across them in a crowded  Higher Ground Basement in 2010 I’ve been pleased to see that they’ve been gigging relentlessly and have established themselves as one of the nation’s most exciting live touring acts in the folk/blues/roots spectrum. It might seem a bit ambitious for an emerging act to release a live album as a follow-up to a debut, but there’s an energetic quality to BGB‘s live shows that probably can’t be captured in a traditional recording scenario. I was secretly hoping that BGB would take a leaf out of The Shaolin Afronauts‘ book and record their next album in a live-studio setting, but I suppose a live performance at Adelaide’s iconic Wheatsheaf Hotel is even more befitting.

Bearded Gypsy Band Launch their new Live Album with support from Max Savage and the False Idols and Monkey Puzzle Tree at The Gov in Adelaide on Thursday January 24th starting from 7:30pm. Purchase tickets from Moshtix via this link.

Follow this link for the Facebook event page.

Ticket Giveaway: Sam Brittain Album Launch at The Promethean, Adelaide, Thurs 27th September

Image courtesy of Sam Brittain

If you read our review of Sam Brittain’s debut album Our Shining Skin on Timber and Steel, you’ll know that we think very highly of this young South Australian songwriter. So we’re very pleased to be giving away 2 x free double passes for his album launch show tomorrow night (Thursday, 27th September) at the Promethean in Adelaide. Simply be the first to email through to us her at timberandsteelaustralia@gmail.com to get your name on the doorlist.

Joining Sam on the night will be his full band of folky tunesters w/ support by the wonderful Maggie Rutjens. Get in quick, because Sam’s been drumming up quite some support recently by hitting the Adelaide pavement busking on the back of his national tour and support slots for the likes of Matt Corby and Passenger. If you miss out, tickets will be $20 from moshtix, that you can purchase from this link. The night’s proceeding should kick off at around 7:30pm.

Review: Thom Lion, “The Minimalist”


Image courtesy of Thom Lion

Just when you think you’ve got your hometown pegged, and you know exactly who’s making your kind of tunes and where to find them, someone always comes out of left field. Most recently for me, that man was Thom Lion. His storytelling, his song-writing and his singing exhibit all the signs of a seasoned touring act, but the South Australian artist is really only starting to gain his momentum on the Adelaide circuit.

To mark his arrival, Thom Lion has recently put out his debut EP The Minimalist which showcases his talents perfectly. As bloggers about folk music, we know better than to go around throwing about the word “haunting”, but it’s honestly the best word to describe the title track of this EP. The sounds of City & Colour and Bon Iver seem to meet and go for a walk. The premise of the song is simple and beautiful; “you’re all I need, I’m a minimalist”. Listen below.

This EP is full of simple ideas and inviting stories. It begins with a folk-rock recount of pain and misfortune titled “Bruised Apples” that bears all the hallmarks of a good Paul Kelly track; simple, anecdotal and charming. Similarly, track two “The Seaside” tells a story of emotional cleansing through a snippets of short stories in a beautifully slow-paced folk format with wailing harmonica. Like all good storytellers Thom Lion is very thoughtful lyrically, with impeccable timing and clever devices. In “The Seaside”, the line “I used to play piano for the neighbouring people” introduces the piano part to the track which brings I smile to your lip when you realised what’s just happened. The EP picks up pace again with a jazzy pop song called “Don’t Wanna Drink” that echoes the likes of Andy Bull and shows off his skills on the piano before the EP ends with the aforementioned highlight “The Minimalist”.

As a whole, this is one of my favourite folk music releases to come out of South Australia in recent times. The whole record is available for streaming and purchase from Bandcamp via this link. Definitely worth the $7. You can listen and rate the songs on his Triple J Unearthed page here.

Thom Lion is playing alongside Carla Lippis, Banjo Jackson and Cookie Baker at the Annex Sessions in Glenelg on September 20th presented by The Jam Room. Follow this page for details.

Review: Sam Brittain, “Our Shining Skin”

Image Courtesy of Sam Brittain (photo credit: Little Finch Photography)

Sam Brittain has been one of the shining stars of the South Australian singer-songwriter scene over the past year, supporting the likes of Passenger and Matt Corby and bravely embarking on his own national tour to launch his debut solo album Our Shining Skin. Sam’s a product of SA’s famous Barossa Valley region, where he has been active in gigging and recording (mostly with rock bands) ever since his high school years. However, it’s only been recently that Sam Brittain has been hitting the city in a big way as a solo artist.

Our Shining Skin delivers a lot more than could be expected of a 22 year old’s debut. Vocally, his experience shines through with control and range that will allow Sam to hold his own on any stage. The recorded sound is also very impressive. Blues guitar, cello, mandolin and fiddle all come and go and the production quality is absolutely faultless.

It’s hard to really peg Our Shining Skin within a genre. Most of the time it feels like a folk record, other times a blues-rock odyssey, but there are also songs that would sound right at home on country radio. Straight ahead and subdued acoustic-pop songs such as “Don’t Cry” and “Bones” and “Our Shining Skin” are shuffled between moodier and wonderfully creative bluesy tracks like “Wait For You” that compare to Matt Corby’s “Souls a’Fire” and entrancing journeys like “The Coldest Trace” and “Laneway”. The most enjoyable pop songs on the album I find are those that are fast-paced and tinged with bluegrass or quick-picked folk instrumentation such as “Bruises” and “Garden”. The moment where the versatility of this album really strikes you when the final notes of the contemporary-classical arrangements of “A Perfect Line” fade to welcome the   strumming of “Carnival” which evolves unexpectedly but very naturally in a very funky direction.

Our Shining Skin is a formidable and wide-spanning resume from Sam Brittain and it will be very interesting to see how his writing solidifies as his career continues, as this record proves he has far more options for direction than most. I only regret that it took me 2 months to take this record out of its plastic.

Catch Sam Brittain play alongside Timber and Steel‘s favourite sons Jack Carty (Syd) and Tom West (of Traveller & Fortune) at the Annex Cafe in Glenelg, South Australia on Thursday 16th August. Click here for details.

Stream Vorn Doolette’s Long Awaited Sophomore Album

Image Courtesy of Vorn Doolette

I had a sinking feeling recently upon casting my mind back and reflecting on all of the albums that I’ve reviewed over the years with Timber and Steel and the relative ease with which I’ve defined, categorised, measured and summarised the music; the blood, sweat and tears of artists. Despite all the good intentions, diligence and research that could be expected from a blogger, it often feels as though we’re not qualified to evaluate the work of artists for such a large audience, particularly in this community where we often know the artist personally and we’re well aware of just how much of an artist goes into a record.

Despite how much I’ve been loving listening to Vorn Doolette’s Further Adventures, this feeling is particularly applicable to this record, Vorn Doolette‘s sophomore and first peep since his 2009 debut that earned him some pretty widespread acclaim throughout 09/10 and the unwavering attention and admiration of myself and the other Timber and Steel contributors.

A lot has happened to Vorn since his last release. He’s survived a near death car accident, learned to walk again, learned to sing again. He’s moved on to managing himself and moved away from the traditional practices of performing and touring; organising and ticketing his own shows in unconventional spaces such as his national house tour and his series of performances at Suzie Wong’s Room in Adelaide. It’s been a long and arduous process for Vorn to get to this point where he’s in the position to release another collection of songs, and he has been kind enough to let you stream it on this website (and is available to purchase from the this link).

I feel very privileged to discover this next instalment of music from one of Australia’s best up and coming singer songwriters, and I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.Given the number of amazing songs in Vorn‘s arsenal that didn’t make it onto this record, album #3 is set to be a cracker too.

Traveller & Fortune Release Video for “Letter To Japan”


Image Courtesy of Traveller & Fortune

After departing to Canada for a whirlwind string of shows earlier in the year, Adelaide’s Traveller & Fortune have been back in the thick of the action of late playing some great support slots and releasing this video for “Letter To Japan”. The track was on Traveller & Fortune‘s self-titled EP which was released late in 2010.

The video was shot in the foothills above Adelaide and was produced by Kieran Ellis-Jones– of Your Take Sessions/6 on the St fame.

Click here to listen to Traveller & Fortune on Bandcamp.

Review: The Head and The Heart, The Gov, Adelaide

Image courtesy of The Head and The Heart

The Head and The Heart w/Grouplove at The Gov, Adelaide, SA , Thursday 5 January 2012.

The Head and the Heart are an act everyone’s been tipping to be the next big thing for quite some time- SupPop’s prodigy children, expected to seamlessly supersede the likes of Fleet Foxes when the wind turns. So I was very pleased to have the opportunity to see them on their tour with indie darlings and Triple J pets Grouplove so early in their lives.

It’s not very often I go to a gig in Adelaide and don’t know anyone, alas The Gov was host to what seemed like a festival crowd this night- a lot of young people out to have a good time and try something new with friends, easily summoned by commercial radio. In saying that, it was a pleasant thing to be a part of.

The majority of the crowd were there to see Grouplove on the night, but were obviously pleasantly surprised and appreciative of The Head and The Heart‘s take on the indie-folk genre- the quota for which is usually filled by Boy and Bear in this country. Despite only having listened to The Head and The Heart‘s debut album once or twice before the gig, there were a number of songs that were beautifully familiar to me throughout their set, which is a testament to the catchiness of songs like “Lost In My Mind” and “Down In The Valley”. The set grew gradually in intensity throughout its duration culminating in perhaps 5 or 10 minutes of wonderful, emotional moments between the band and the audience. At many stages, both male and female vocalists appeared on the cusp of tears.

The most extraordinary aspect of the performance I found was the way The Head and The Heart manage such a powerful impact from just three (and often just two) voices. The art in vocal harmonies that I think many fail to harness is that they’re not just two or three parts that sound good together- it takes a little extra artistic vision to be able to imagine and write something that provides the most suitable and fullest effect on a song. The Head and The Heart‘s live execution of this is also remarkable.

I look forward to hearing what The Head and The Heart have in store for us in the future. Upon seeing their live show, and listening to their debut album again afterwards, they promise everything in the world.

Stream Upcoming Todd Sibbin and the Opposite Ends Album “Always The Why”


Image courtesy of Todd Sibbin and the Opposite Ends

Eighteen months since releasing their promising debut EP Waiting For Me To Say, Todd Sibbin and the Opposite Ends are finally on the verge of unleashing their debut long-player. Although not yet officially released, Always The Why is available for streaming and digital purchase through Bandcamp.

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