Niq Reefman is a genius—perhaps a mad one, and yet, all the same. It’s probably safe to say that most artists consider their craft as a careful and encompassing reflection of the life that they’ve lived and the world that they’ve seen. One would not argue that New South Wales’s own Reefman encapsulates this same form that singer-songwriters have been pursuing since the dawn of music itself, and yet, one would also not argue that he does it in a way that could best be described as unequivocally different.
This isn’t to say that Reefman’s record, A Selection of Musical Tales, is bad. Quite the contrary, in fact, as he dares to embrace the true nature of a classic bard—think less Bob Dylan and more Pantea Ateia. He is as literal a songwriter as he is offbeat as a performer, donning an off-kilter instrumental center between his trumpet, accordion, keyboard, and ukulele. Sonically, this collection of instruments can veer from one direction to another between bohemia, zydeco, dance, and beyond that makes for an interesting overall mix of influences that all fall rather well in-line with the overall vision that Reefman has for his work.
As far as that vision goes, one can’t help but imagine that it is to entertain, purely and truly. Judging A Selection of Musical Tales purely for the music on display here and one might honest to goodness think of it more as a joke. Despite the investment that Reefman has clearly put into developing a varied and intriguing overall soundscape to scintillate the ears, he’s still tackling themes in such lyrically and vocally lackadaisical means as he does across songs like “Glue”. As one might come to expect from Reefman, this is quite literally a song about, well, glue, and how kids in grade school tend to huff it like a drug to get through the day.
Ultimately, what we have here is an album geared as a comedy piece. Reefman himself is quite the humorous individual, and from what he evokes from this record it is clear to see why he’d be a popular live act in his home country. Distinctly Australian and authentically funny, the comedic ramblings of a folk-tinged bard might well grab a hold of a greater ear as time goes by. It wouldn’t be totally undeserved.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm