Like the Leaving Home superhero, it’s comforting to have him around.
While his first three solo albums explored suburbia, here, Mitchell's looking all around. He's personal but not whiny; in wonder but not milquetoast. Sitting In the Waiting Room, for example, is fearful but not melodramatic while Don't Wanna Grow Up Anymore is a much sweeter take on Blur's Coffee & TV, pondering maturity with a lot less self-pity. Occasionally, as in To Let You Down, he sounds strikingly like Julian Lennon who also seemed so effortless in his breezier moments. Recorded in Melbourne with luscious production from Dean Reid (Marina & the Diamonds), even when he's agitated at old demons dragging him down (In Another Time), he still manages to sing with such loveliness in the cosy surrounds of a restrained string section. And while Jebediah were always passionate supporters of Perth's local scene, it's delightful to hear San Cisco's Scarlett Stevens voice on the upbeat Go.
As Bob Evans, Kevin Mitchell seems freed by a lack of expectations usually meted out to “side projects”. Thus, Familiar Stranger seems more organic and accessible than, say, some of Tim Rogers' solo-stuff away from You Am I. Like the Leaving Home superhero, it's comforting to have him around.
This week's new sets include music from locals Gurrumul, Josh Pyke and West Thebarton Brothel Party plus new tunes from The Maccabees and Albert Hammond Jr.