Like a good movie, it took you places. You’d put it in your car stereo and go on a journey – even if you were stuck in traffic. You’d stopover in a song, or just sit back and go the distance. Today’s ring-tone generation might not think so, but here’s the thing: the album’s not dead. A studio journey that began in Melbourne, via Dublin, Nashville and New York has maybe just produced the album of the year.
‘The History Effect’ is the new album by Tarmac Adam.
Tarmac Adam is the studio creation of Melbourne, Australia-based songwriter Matt O’Donnell and co-conspirator, multi-instrumentalist Steve Paix. Rueben Alexander signed up to play drums, and the group was completed by the arrival from Dublin of Crowded House bass player, Nick Seymour.
The Crowded House connection is part of the ‘history effect’ that colors this album. Nearly ten years ago, O’Donnell and Paix, with guitarist Sean McVitty, had the full House rhythm section – Seymour and the late-lamented Paul Hester – on board for their debut album ‘Handheld Torch’. Import copies found their way on to US radio, but the journey changed course and the band went their separate ways, to far-flung locations and the joys and challenges of fatherhood.
Those experiences informed the writing of Matt O’Donnell. Finally, a new set of songs emerged. So enticing were they that Nick Seymour got on a plane.
The endless road vista of the album’s cover reflects its ten year journey, and the name of the band, as Matt explains:
‘Tarmac Adam is our play on the original name for tarmac. But also that sense of ‘Adam’ – the first man, the Everyman – on life’s journey, a journey we all travel.’
Melbourne newspaper The Age wrote: “…the appeal of Tarmac Adam is about intimacy and soundscapes…” This intimacy is like those thoughts that fill your head just before you go to sleep, transporting you into the dream.
O’Donnell drew much of his inspiration for ‘The History Effect’ from, oddly enough, one day in the year:
‘We’d just had the annual family Christmas gathering, and for me it just opened out into all these themes – getting older, acknowledgement, aspiration, regret, acceptance.’
‘The History Effect’ is a collection of great songs in the way that fans of Nick Seymour’s ‘other’ band will truly appreciate. It will resonate with anyone who has had their fair share of life’s ups and downs. The lush musical palette of Tarmac Adam makes it a gorgeous listening experience from start to finish. But there’s also a narrative thread of bittersweet reflection and hopeful longing. Just like the rear vision mirror on the cover, where we are and where we’re headed is defined by where we’ve been. That’s The History Effect.
If you love to experience an album the way they were meant to be made, this is a journey you’ll take again and again.
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Download: Tarmac Adam