Fraser A. Gorman – Slow Gum (Rating 4 out of 5)

fraserWhen you are an artist that is influenced more by Bob Dylan and Hank Williams than the contemporary hipster bands of the day, then your debut album is probably going to be pretty good, and the record in question, Slow Gum from Fraser A. Gorman, is more than pretty good, and in fact, it is bordering on superb.

With a vibe that meanders quite successfully  from early Ryan Adams to the Kinks and the late great Townes Van Zant, the Australian singer songwriter very much wears his collective influences on his sleeve. From the opener, “Big Old World” that name checks Elvis and seems to be coming from the heart of a boy from Melbourne that struggles to make in this big old world to “Blossom and Snow” that sounds like Townes covering Dylan on song that pays tribute to his late father, every song presented here is top of the mark.

The song “My Old Man” is Ryan Adams fronting Crazy Horse, “Book of Love” has a definite airy and whimsical Harry Nilsson tilt to it, and “Shiny Gun” is straight up post Bright Eyes Conor Oberst with a side order of Laurel Canyon thrown in for good measure, and is probably the best song on the record.

If you are wondering if you should genre-size this album as Country,Folk, Pop, or Rock, this record has a little bit of each in its DNA, don’t bother. Gorman himself provides you with the exact answer on “Broken Hands”  where he sings “I got no soul, cuz Country Music sounds to me like Rock and Roll, turn old Hank up.” Enough said, he’s right.

The song “Mystic Mile” is pretty much a stunner that has an epic pastoral feel to it that could have been on any Donovan record and also very much brings to mind “Waterloo Sunset” vintage era Kinks, and “Never Gonna Hold You (Like I Do)” sounds eerily like post Beach Boys Brian Wilson, production value and all, and is beautiful in its own right. The full band stretches out Crazy Horse style on “We’re all right”, and “Dark Eyes” sounds like Lou Reed meets R.E.M..

2015 is turning out to be a pretty darn good year for Aussie artists with Courtney Barnett already delivering a semi-masterpiece earlier in the year, but pound for pound, song for song, tune for tune, Slow Gum from Fraser A. Gorman just might be better.