Bernard Fanning - Tea & Sympathy

Bernard Fanning
Tea & Sympathy

(Lost Highway)

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10

Written by John Metzger


It ought not be surprising that Tea & Sympathy, the solo debut from Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning, settles comfortably into its ’70s-imbued aura. After all, the Australian outfit spent its early days tackling songs by Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. However, instead of turning up the volume and riding high upon a bombastic bed of rough-and-tumble, electric guitars, Fanning opted to take a more subtle approach. Enlisting the assistance of producer Tchad Blake, he applied acoustic instrumentation to his pop-imbued material, and fully embracing a vocal style that is reminiscent of both Ryan Adams and The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, Fanning enthusiastically explores a range of styles that contains elements of country, gospel, southern rock, blues and soul. As his voice glides over the top of the mostly mid-tempo fare, it illuminates the weary yearning of his lyrics, transforming the bittersweet tunes into impassioned, heartfelt reflections upon life and love. Nevertheless, his compositions and arrangements are so finely honed that — despite their pleasant, easy-going nature — they frequently fail to make much of a lasting impression, and worse, his attempts to offer some variety by turning up the clatter (Wish You Well, Which Way Home) inevitably fall flat. Even so, Tea & Sympathy accomplishes precisely what any good debut ought to do in that its employment of well-crafted and comfortingly familiar frameworks allows Fanning to establish his credibility. Yet, by playing it as safe as he does, he places the onus squarely upon his sophomore effort to determine whether his new forays are successful or whether they are merely exercises in derivative regurgitation. starstarstar


Of Further Interest...

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Bonnie Raitt - Souls Alike

Suzanne Vega - Beauty & Crime


Tea & Sympathy is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box