Frustratingly, the music of Australian expat Tamas Wells is still unavailable in North America, although after his last record was a bit of a hit in Japan he’s readily available there. Wells moved to Burma (or Myanmar, if you want to get technical) back in 2006 while putting together his second album A Plea en Vendredi and lives there still. Which has no obvious sonic effect on his music, then or now; all three of his records are the same kind of sun-kissed, impossibly relaxed (yet somehow still a little dark) acoustic reverie, the kind of thing that gives the likes of Jack Johnson an especially bad name by showing how close they are to something that’s actually beautiful, intriguing and often moving.
If this were a just world, A Plea en Vendredi would have gotten the same quantity and quality of praise that, say, Our Endless Numbered Days did—like Sam Beam, Wells is blessed or cursed with a voice that is always soft and pleasant and so gets away with singing far stranger songs than you might expect, but unlike Beam he’s remained resolutely quiet and small scale (sonically and economically). Two Years in April is if anything more streamlined—no gorgeous instrumental miniatures like “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Ruling Class”, or droning dreamscapes like “Open the Blinds”. The songs here are consistently enjoyable but the lack of variation is missed a bit. But even a good-not-great Tamas Wells album is miles above what most of his contemporaries can produce, and when he hits his stride on a song like “The Day She Drowned, Her Body Was Found” or “Grace And Seraphim” there is little music being made today that is as sublime. Now get him some proper international distribution, please.
// Notes from the Road
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