Live Review: Fraser A Gorman

19 July 2012 | 11:07 am | Ching Pei Khoo

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From the moment the curtains part to reveal the dimunitive figure of Fraser A Gorman, the audience remains fixated on the precocious talent with the cherubic features and Sideshow Bob-esque hair. He very bravely opens with a solo number – a cappella, no less – and bares his searing talent to the packed Toff. His voice rings clear and is very well modulated – albeit a touch crackly at the high notes, but that could just be due to nerves. Tonight is the official launch of his self-titled EP, after all.

His four strong band members join him from the second number onwards – an accomplished, dexterous team who underpin Gorman's strong singing and songwriting skills as they perform tracks richly blended in the vein of country and western, folk and southern gospel hymns. Worthy of special mention are Sam 'Coops' Cooper on the electric guitar and Sophia Lubzcenko on the violin, both of whom also lend harmony-fuelled backing vocals to nearly all the tracks. Lubzcenko, in particular, is a wonderful find – her golden honeyed vocals the perfect foil to round off that of Gorman's, especially in the melancholy Take Me To Your Grave and the bright Hummingbird. Gorman also proves to be an adept muso himself, playing both guitar and harmonica at the same time in some of the tracks.

To his credit, he doesn't just rely on the highly evocative musical compositions but also crafts a poignant story into the heart of each track. The characters and themes featured in the songs all readily strike a chord: the lover struggling with an addiction, the itinerant in search of a home in a graveyard, loyal old friends, an unrequited love and travellers on an endless journey. He even warmly dedicates a couple of the tracks to his mother and sister — the former receiving the toe-tapping, rollicking Lonesome Mother's Son Blues. The tour de force of the night is their rendition of The Weight, originally performed by The Band, during which the band members take turns performing a verse each and Cooper, Gorman and Lubzcenko marry silver-tinged harmonies in the much-loved, uplifting chorus. 

Gorman also sneaks in a wryly humorous track entitled My Last Four Dollars, which he preempts with a brief tale about how he had initially wanted to be a World War II historian. Very fortunately for the rest of us, he “got sick of it so became a musician”. Fraser A Gorman is an enormously talented musician. There's great things ahead.

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