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Tim Oxley | Its All About Love (Candle)
Although this is ostensibly Tim Oxley's solo album - you know him from the Dearhunters - the presence of his amour Jodi Phillis is everywhere, as a backing singer, as sleeve illustrator and more than anything as an inspiration. For this is a rare thing indeed, a sensitive, romantic and light (but not lightweight) collection of songs about being in love. Musically and lyrically it's the polar opposite of the sludgy rock clogging up the landscape. It could only be on Candle, the small Melbourne label home to Darren Hanlon, The Lucksmiths and others, and whose boss Chris Crouch still runs the CD stall at gigs. Oxley's often double-tracked and softly sung lead vocal is a delight, as is his acoustic strumming. Very much a vocalist's record, the charm of the piece also stems from the DIY nature of the recording - engineering credits include Paul Thomas 'at home', although Don Kerr in Toronto - contributing some very subtle drumming - has also created a gentle but credible spirit. Although it takes a few tracks to get going, at the centre of the album are four great songs that define the current Tim Oxley sound. Fishing Song is perhaps closest to the dreamy Norwegians Kings of Convenience, and Jezzabelle has an interesting low harmony vocal running through it. Hey Watcha Doin Today (allegedly a greeting popular in Adelaide) is surely a hit single. It's got a lovely Simon and Garfunkel drumming shuffle, soft vocals and whistling (funny moment that) that would make the hardest authoritarian smile. Weeping in Love is simply a beautiful song, slow and gentle, Jodi's harmonies to the fore, with a brilliant chord change going into the chorus; one of my songs of the year so far. Two weaker tracks - Jive Dooli and an unnecessary Lucinda Williams cover - break the consistency of the record, but the fuzz bass and sound effects on the To Watch the Earth from the Moon, and more quality writing in Gypsy Boy (Darren Hanlon on organ) stop the ending descending into tweeness. So before you reach for the hankies in sentimental sympathy, this is a genuine and touching record.

Richard Bell
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002