Australian singer and songwriter NiqReefmanreleased in April 2017 “A Selection of Musical Tales” in which his signature minimalist fusion of jazz chords and folk lyrics are used to tell stories to the tune of some compelling melodies—and, interestingly enough, electronic music sounds. One can also distinguish the influences of genres like reggae and cabaret, as well as comedic story-telling.
The seemingly disparate array of influences does not mean that the album is a hot mess. Rather, it makes for an intriguing and attention-grabbing listen, enhanced by lyrics that have clearly been penned by someone who is cynical and looks back at events with thought-provoking humour. In “Glue”, for example, Reefman sings: “Glue/The schoolkid’s cocaine/Take a whiff and put another line on the page/Lumpy like a lunar mud/Ain’t no teacher takin back my snuff today.” At first rather hilarious, one only needs to pause for a little bit to realise that it is quite a statement on the condition of education today that seems to be reflected in the cabaret-influenced melody—joy and fun at first glance, dark implications as second glance.
It’s the same with the song “Fishing”, in which Reefman sings: “Why buy a house/When I can go fishing?/I don’t want more/When I can go fishing/Why upsize/When I can go fishing?” The interpretation to this tune is potentially broad; the one I’m going for is the concept of buying more and more suffocating as opposed to the experience of experiencing things such as fishing.
I can see “A Selection of Musical Tales” becoming a favorite of someone in the position of doing repetitive work that doesn’t need much mental focus, such as driving or manual labour, making their day a little brighter and more interesting.
D.G. Adams’ “The Old Heart”
Vancouver, British Columbia-based folk and rock artist D.G. Adams released “The Old Heart” in March 2017. While some of the numbers are very jazzy and others sound like a modern fusion of various genres, Adams never strays from his main genres.
Although many of the tracks touch on “the usual” themes, Adams manages to imbue them with a sense of romanticism and wistfulness that can strike some pretty cynical hearts. The artist’s love for making music comes through with an overall sense of enjoyment—as well as the dabs of wittiness, tongue-in-cheek moments, and sarcasm. Not to say it’s all about fun and games, as tunes such as the stripped down, piano-led ballad “Mother” clearly demonstrate.
The sometimes seemingly glib approach to some of the tracks hides from the casual listener layers of emotion and insight. One might wonder, for example, if one should give “This Song Is Not True” the time of day. Then again, you might wonder why it’s not true and for whom, and by then, you can’t but accept the challenge and listen to it, trying to figure out why it isn’t true and if that’s the case, why it would have been written in the first place.
Other genres and style incorporated into “The Old Heart” include a sensual latin vibe in “La Terraza”, hip hop in “Stallion Man”, and grunge in “Disposable Friends”. Adams proves that isn’t scared of going into territories that usually do not share borders with folk and rock to create music that is well worth giving a go.
Captain of the Lost Waves’ “Hidden Gems – Chapter 1”
Original and compelling, Captain of the Lost Waves’ album “Hidden Gems – Chapter 1” start their relationship with the listener through the name of both their band and their album. What lost waves are they captaining? What hidden gems are they seeking? Are these gems hidden in the lost waves, and if so, how much harder will they be to find?
Released in March 2017, the Yorkshire, UK-based band brings together instruments such as a bouzouki, a ukulele, an accordion, as well as a mandolin, banjo, and bodhran (I had to look that last one up) to create a sound that at times is as familiar as well-loved rock tunes and as surprising as the most experimental ones you can think of, dipping into folk, cabaret, and progressive rock, amongst others.
The overall feel is that of a hopeful someone who has been looking for quite some time for something that is lost: sad, down, but still hopeful. The trajectory is that of waves; despite an overall sense of direction, the details are muddling, messy, and sometimes seem to go in completely opposite directions. I don’t think that this is an album that will be widely liked; however, it will probably find some very ardent and loyal fans amongst those who like over-the-top and extravagant productions.