Deep tea-towell scene.
(people like me). It’s my favourite album of the year so far.
There’s something refreshing about an anthemic song on a folk record. Instead of waiting for the back end of the album, Fraser gives it to us in the second track, “My Old Man”. The opener, Big Old World, is one of those short and sweet and mellow country poems about people who aren’t rocking and rolling like the rest of us. It was a nice way to open the door – but My Old Man is the true first track on Slow Gum.
Track 3, Book of Love, was put out last year by Milk! as a 7’’ single. They chose well – it has become Gorman’s signature track. It summarizes the transition he’s made from 100% purity deep south Jesusland country music to the Dylan/Guthrie (Arlo) sound he makes now. There’s nothing wrong with deep south Jesusland country music – I just struggle to be captivated by it sometimes. I think the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack just fully topped anything of that nature I’ll ever hear again, and I can never be as impressed. It's similar to other things like... I don’t think any season of Survivor could top Season 28, thus it’ll never be as exciting to watch again.
Shiny Gun is absolutely killer – I could listen to it 100 times and still feel like I’m hearing something new. Broken Hands and Mystic Mile pull us into the second half of the record. They’re not highlights – but the video clip for Broken Hands certainly was a goal kicked from 50 out by Fraser and Sunny Leunig.
When I saw Gorman support Courtney Barnett I was introduced to the song “Never Gonna Hold You (Like I Do)”. Each time I’ve seen him play since then it has made an appearance. It’s a crowd favourite – he introduces it by revealing it’s about the late night walk from the Old Bar down to Lambs on Brunswick Street. By the way, it would be a good time to mention here that Fraser A. Gorman has maybe the best on-stage presence of any Melbourne musician right now. That was clear after his Record Store Day spot at Record Paradise – he charmed crate diggers and punk rockers and toddler’s all in one go. A 3 year old even gave him a lollipop for it. If that isn’t a mark of success then I don’t know what is. Actually, a bigger milestone would be when his song was played on the Sunday Footy Show. "We fuckin' made it!" he yelled triumphantly at the Old Bar that night.
I got my hands on Fraser A. Gorman tea-towel at one of these shows and received a download card of the “Fraser A. Gorman Collection”. The absolute standout from this 6 track assemblage was “Dark Eyes”, so I was pretty stoked to see that it has made its way on to Slow Gum as the penultimate track. There’s something crooney about it that makes it, it’s a song that would fit on a “World of Herb Alpert” record you find at the Salvos.
“Blossom and Snow” finished the album off on an even more sombre note than what it starts with. Thus, Slow Gum is perfectly bookended and given a clear definition as a record that is way more rock than it is country, by someone who is way more country than they are rock.
I first saw Fraser A. Gorman when he supported Courtney Barnett at the Corner hotel in October last year. It was probably the most pleasant surprise I’ve had when it comes to gigs. Years ago I did this thing where I only listened to Johnny Cash, John Prine and Woody Guthrie for like 2 months, and then moved on to other endeavours. Seeing Gorman live reinvigorated my country/folk explorations, so when I watched a clip of Arlo Guthrie’s set at Woodstock a week later I was emotionally vulnerable and haven’t been the same way since. I think maybe I could say Fraser Alexander Gorman was a gateway drug to a proper addiction to folk music.
Patrick Wain - 27/6/2015