Despite all that has been said about the world becoming more and more connected and so on, we are definitely still a long way from artists and musicians having the same opportunities in terms of reach and consideration. In a world where Jonathan Wilson and Father John Misty have the status of demi-gods of Americana, that Singapore-based Sean Lam is still a niche name is a simple and brutal consequence of this fact.
Of course, it’s not the first example of an artist garnering far less attention than they should, but this realisation is particularly strong in the case in Hanging Up The Moon’s new album, It’s All Here Somewhere. The breadth of songwriting, the classy touch of arrangements all combine to another brilliant milestone in Lam’s career. Shards of dreamy, Sylvian-inspired lullabies (‘End Times’, ‘27’, ‘Game of Life’, remindful of lesser known masterpiece Burning Boy, by Joe McKee) interact beautifully with more elaborately instrumented pieces, such as the schizophrenic ‘Dream On’, in which a Roky Erickson mad riff interrupts a perfectly mellow chamber-pop number.
Most of the record runs over more conventional tracks, as in the single, “Rain Dance”, in which Sean impersonates a suddenly melancholy George Harrison. But the strength of songwriting in ‘It’s All Here Somewhere’ refutes charges of mannerism, as Sean can also tune in on more ‘space-soul’ numbers (‘Be Here’, again a mournful Jonathan Wilson), effortlessly delivering elegance and delicacy (‘Snakes and Ladders’ resounds of the meandering, nouvelle vague-flavored pop of The Clientele).
All together an extremely solid confirmation of Lam’s shining talent as songwriter and, in second instance, of his band’s growing contribution to his songs (opener ‘27’ is a good example of this, with its final inflorescences). This is an album that does not care much about ‘style’ and sound as much as it cares about its songs, something that can often be said about lesser-known artists, and not necessarily a bad thing in itself.
Words: Lorenzo Righetto