The older I get, the more I realise it really doesn’t matter what people think about you and what your hobbies, style or tastes in the things are. Now in my late 20’s, I’ve come very comfortable listening to (and reviewing for that matter) albums and artists younger me wouldn’t have given the time of day to. Yes, I was definitely pretentious, but ten years ago, I’d have almost definitely turned my nose up at an artist like Jack Biilmann.
18 year old me wouldn’t haven’t really been into country, blues or roots, but 18 year old me almost definitely wouldn’t have taken the time to find out if I did in fact like him. And frankly, it’s a little disappointing to think of how many artists and albums I didn’t listen to because of this pretension. Safe to say though, I’m glad I’ve listened to Biilmann’s new album Full Circle, an album of heartfelt reflections of life as we know it, society and love/ relationships.
Biilmann, from the nation’s capital, has managed to put together 12 tracks, spanning a little over 40 minutes, that will leave even the deepest cockles of your heart all warmed up and leave you with that fuzzy feeling you get when feel like maybe everything will turn out all right in the end. To set the scene, Jack Biilmann is a little less indie than Xavier Rudd, but a little more country than Kim Churchill. His music is a salt of the earth type of thing, where you just feel an instant connection to it, as you do your best Russell Coight dance around a bonfire. It’s simple and glorious, matched by an enthusiasm for a good time surrounded by better people.
“Legacy” was the obvious and correct choice to be the lead single for the entire album. Opening with immaculate finger picks and earthy vocals, “Legacy” comes into its own from the first chorus, before really hits its straps with some John Butler-esque gat work in the bridge. It’s a real foot stomper and bound to get the crowd moving at a festival. “Grandfather’s Hands (Don’t Wash Away)” is a song equally about his dog as it is his own connection to the land, his home and family history. There’s a bullet proof sentiment in the song that sings true throughout much of Full Circle‘s run.
Current single “SOS” has a humble nature to it that feels as if it is Biilmann in song form. With a little bit of Counting Crows seeping from the edges, “SOS” is subtle and sweet from start to finish. Going full country on “Running On Time”, you’re reminded once more that Full Circle is first and foremost a country album, born out of an artist who has surely played his fair share of pub gigs and done a heap of favours for friends in exchange for nothing more than a cold beer afterwards. The more you listen to it (I’d recommend more than a couple listens), the more you come to appreciate artists like Jack Biilmann; they’re the acts that, at the root of it all, are what the music community is built on.
Quite possibly the best love song on the album, “Sunday Morning” would not be out of place having been written for or by Josh Teskey. A slow waltz and first-dance-ready track, “Sunday Morning” is a satisfying ode of affection to the loves in Biilmann’s life. Second to last on the album is “Society”, a slightly mysterious and solemn moment on Full Circle that again shows a tender side to Biilmann’s overt toughness.
Closing on “The Hills Have Eyes”, Full Circle reaches its Everest on this track. It’s a real triumph and a bloody good and wholesome time. With a little bit of harmonica breaking up the track, the vocals of Biilmann are at their best here. Full Circle, while it likely won’t receive the recognition or accolades similar albums and artists have or will receive, does go some way in continuing to lay the foundation for Jack Biilmann to slowly edge his way into your ears and on to festival stages, as he continues to expand his audience. I’m glad I’m a little bit older now and took the time to listen to Biilmann; younger me probably wouldn’t have and he’d for sure be missing out.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Full Circle is out Friday 23 April. For more details, head to his official website.