Album Review: James Teague - Lavender Prayers

1 May 2012 | 4:58 pm | Cam Findlay

With Lavender Prayers, James Teague has crafted a very eclectic and intriguing album.

Frail and sombre lover, why must you displease/Your love was like the fire, now it's taunted by the breeze.” So begins James Teague's debut album, Lavender Prayers, as his unorthodox voice plays over softly-strummed ukelele, banjo and organ. The rest of the album keeps this aesthetic up; while Teague plays around with different styles - at times delving into somber country and bluegrass as well as blues - Teague's waif-like, vibrato vocals drive an interesting folky form, finding some middle ground between the likes of Donovan and Jeff Buckley.

There's no limit of left turns on Lavender Prayers. Where Sorrow Is Forgotten is a jaunty bluegrass number and then Misplaced Soul is a lowly, guitar-driven blues tune, shaking hands with The Drones and the aforementioned late Buckley. Naked Eyes, Deluded Minds swings into psychedelic territory, an odd time signature, piercing guitar and marshmellowy organ filling out into a dreamscape of sound. The Girl Without A Voice is probably the closest thing to a pop single on the album, as Teague limits his oft-over-the-top voice to develop a solid track that easily stands apart from the rest of the set.

With Lavender Prayers, James Teague has crafted a very eclectic and intriguing album. But it's just too corny in places to be taken seriously all the way through. Like A Lucid Dream – a painful, childish hopalong folk tune - and Down The Sprially Snakes Canal – an overwrought hippy love-in, complete with sitar and bongo - really hold the rest of the album back. There's no doubt that Teague's effeminate voice stands out, but there's still a way to go for the songwriting to also stand out for the right reasons.