The Big Issue : Edition 555
MUSIC 40 THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 9–22 FEB 2018 Craig David’s debut album, Born to Do It, turns 18 this year. A huge hit of the Y2K era, it made David the poster boy for UK garage’s pop crossover. After four albums of diminishing returns, the singer quit music in 2010. The Time Is Now continues the comeback story that started with Following My Intuition (2016). Somehow, David remains as likeable at 36 as he was in his teens, with a voice that still sells the cheesiest of lyrics. That doesn’t, however, guarantee good songs. The Time Is Now trips on its none too subtle nods to Drake’s More Life, tropical house clichés, and clear misfires like ‘For the Gram’. David finds surer ground on breezy R’n’B jams like ‘Love Will Come Around’, which suit his earnest lover-man persona. The album is also heavy on collaborations, from the cloying ‘I Know You’ with Bastille to laidback standout ‘Live in the Moment’, featuring GoldLink and Kaytranada. The Time Is Now is an uneven return, but not unwelcome. JACK TREGONING THE TIME IS NOW CRAIG DAVID “It’s hard to fail,” Elizabeth Mitchell sings on ‘Sky’, the opener on the second LP for Melbourne outfit Totally Mild. The song finds Mitchell weighing up reassuring platitudes – “just try to be your best/ know that you are blessed” – with a desire for new horizons, even if they court failure; the sky of its title the proverbial limit. Her is “a document of a woman struggling with the idea of potential”, a sentiment echoed in both words and music. Following up a beloved debut Down Time (2015), she’s weighing up contentment versus ambition – whether to double down on her band’s jangly guitar sound or reach for something grander. Her effectively splits the difference: ‘Take Today’ and ‘Today Tonight’ are sprightly indie-pop jams, but the centrepiece is piano-ballad ‘Lucky Stars’. The most striking are ‘Sky’ and closer ‘Down Together’, bookends making vivid use of negative space. “ The future looks bright,” Mitchell sings in the latter, but there’s no conviction in her optimism; the clarity lasts only as long as a high. ANTHONY CAREW HER TOTALLY M I LD THERE ARE FEW things in life as emotionally polarising as music, which makes reviewing or judging it an equally emotional process. Each year a dozen judges – myself included – get together and decide which local record will be awarded the Australian Music Prize. Arriving at that decision is no mean feat. Over the course of 12 months we will listen to roughly 400 eligible albums, until we arrive at the official long list (in 2017 that list had more than 50 artists on it). And from there, hours, days and weeks are spent getting to know every record intimately so that, come January, we can argue passionately about which nine will make the coveted shortlist. How do you compare searing lo-fi political punk and free-form jazz? There is no easy answer, but this year we did just that and the resulting shortlist is one of the most musically diverse the prize has ever seen – with the least indie rock of the past decade. The shortlist includes: Beaches’ sprawling double record Second of Spring; Melbourne producer Darcy Baylis’ claustrophobic Intimacy & Isolation; HTML Flowers’ haunting Chrome Halo; Jen Cloher’s stunning self- titled LP; Jordan Rakei’s effortlessly smooth Wallflower; Liars’ surprising return T FCF; Paul Kelly’s beautiful Life Is Fine; Sampa The Great’s extraordinary Birds and the BEE9; and The Vampires’ confounding jazz collaboration The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke. Each of these records does something special, and no matter who wins, they are all worth getting to know. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor Tim Hart’s second album was written while touring with Boy & Bear. The drummer and backing vocalist for the band has created 13 tender songs of his own. The Narrow Corner is cathartic, loaded with detailed metaphors and recurring themes of time, water and distance. The songs are personal but accessible, and refreshing in their delivery. ‘I’d Do Well’ is an unusually gentle admission of fault, while ‘Maybe Just the Once’ looks to the past for a second chance. The latter is reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens, with harmonies just as heart-wrenching. The closing track, ‘Cool Water’, about letting go, is a fitting end to an album so soul- baring. The record is especially beautiful for its contradictions; songs about disconnection and loss are carried on the lightest melodies. Musically, at least, there’s no hostility for past pain. There’s a lot going on in The Narrow Corner, but you’ll be rewarded for investing the time to understand it. IZZY TOLHURST THE NARROW CORNER TIM HART CD DOWNLOAD VINYL SWIMMING INTO THE LONG LIST.