The Weekend Australian - Review

TOM WEST

- Phil Stafford

An­tiFrag­ile Mu­sic

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South Aus­tralian singer-song­writer Tom West didn’t name his fifth stu­dio al­bum af­ter the con­ti­nent, per se. The ti­tle track records his last trip to the beach in 2017 with his dy­ing fa­ther; at the tip of SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula, it was so far south that the next land mass from there was Antarc­tica. This song is steeped in grief and re­gret, but it’s an out­lier, as West rarely wal­lows in such neg­a­tive emo­tions. Rather, his keen­ing, an­drog­y­nous voice — in an up­per reg­is­ter that re­calls Brian Au­bert, front­man of Los An­ge­les in­die rock­ers Sil­ver­sun Pick­ups — is a joy­ously tune­ful in­stru­ment, mesh­ing with his fin­ger-picked gui­tars, sprin­klings of pi­ano, bass and Ringo-like drums. West’s ma­te­rial, though be­tray­ing a Har­vest-era Neil Young in­flu­ence — as heard on the odd­ball A Folk Singer From Outer Space and con­fes­sional Nowhere to Go — is con­sis­tently strong, with mem­o­rably melodic cho­ruses. Much of the al­bum was writ­ten while on the road in the US, where West has been based since 2017, and over­all this col­lec­tion of songs re­flects a con­comi­tant sense of place.

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