At the very beginning of the rather wonderfully titled “I Had Something Good in My Life and I Didn’t Want to Lose It”, Craig Hallsworth’s voice bears an uncanny similarity to, of all people, Ash’s Tim Wheeler. Between the rather uncanny, aural spectacle of Wheeler fronting what is essentially a country-rock (used non-perjoratively!) band and the fact that leading with the title of the song isn’t a good tactical move, the listener may be a little nonplussed by the latest effort from Australia’s Tangled Star at first. However, like all vocalists who sound like other singers, Hallsworth can be heard as firmly as himself after a few listens, and “I Had Something Good in My Life and I Didn’t Want to Lose It” is revealed as a rather gorgeous slow-burner, from the percolating organ on up. Tangled Star’s approach is to be too trad for indie, too rock for country, too unpolished for top 40, or too rocking for folk, but this confluence will wind up being the kind of thing that appeals to most fans of those other genres rather than shutting them out.
Over the brief course of That Time, Hallsworth and the rest of Tangled Star make another good case for being an uncomplicated, satisfying band who is as at ease with what one presumes to be a Townes Van Zandt homage (“Pictures of Lefty”) as it is with a stunning Damien Jurado-esque ballad about the inexorable pull of small towns that has an intro straight out of Pink Floyd’s Meddle (“seabirdtown”). That’s a lot of ground to cover, or range to exhibit, and Tangled Star makes it look and seem not just easy but natural. The title track rounds out things with a brief, pretty piano instrumental that brings to mind the Scottish band Deacon Blue, of all bands. While the EP isn’t a common form these days, Tangled Star makes an excellent case for why it should be. In an age where most of us get our music online, a small but complete statement is preferable to something more bloated.