‘Young and upcoming singer-songwriter’, it’s become quite a cliché, and indeed the most oversubscribed method of music making today; the one man with his acoustic guitar who looks to yield everything of themselves towards their audience and achieve some new frontier of artistic purity, and no doubt work their way through a preposterous amount of ladies along the way. And of course, all of this is to be accomplished with little more than their tender lyrics and a minimalist approach to instrumentation as tools.
So, as I listen to To Transfigure and Solve – the newest instalment from Ed Tullett – a ‘singer/songwriter’ as young as seventeen, I wonder what exactly it is that separates the true greats, who have excelled in this field of music over the decades, from all the hopeless romantics who never make it out of their hometown. And of course, as is the central purpose of this article, I ask if Mr Tullett himself shows the early symptoms of such genius in his own work.
From the very first listen, the album shows a lot of promise. For an independent, unsigned artist, the production standard is exceptionally high, as exemplified in “Disciple Hands”, which is, all in all, probably the most successful track on the record. That said, “Table Top Bruises” does still go on to demonstrate, in an unblemished and incredibly raw way, the exceptionally high standard of this young man’s incredibly poetic lyric-writing.
As one would expect, these lyrics, often written in second person, are very personal in their focus. However, they work best in songs such as “Pine Box to Bedside”, where Tullett refrains from the sort of lyric-writing which could become so close and self-absorbent as to smother the listener. He keeps a refreshing distance from himself and the subject matter, helping offer a certain sense of wisdom that glistens through his words and belies his real age. Neither though, it must be noted, is this delivered in the sort of preaching manner in which so many young, fleeting musicians fall into the trap of doing, as they look to reign down a nest egg of immediate ‘truths of life’ from their self-imposed pedestal to us, the ever so grateful reciprocators. This album is far too honest and understated in its approach for any of that.
Whether the intimacy and intensity of his other tracks will begin to suffocate you is something that I suppose is based on taste. But consider for one moment, the thousands of jaded middle-aged men up and down the country who continue to turn up and play to a handful of people in the local pub’s ‘Acoustic night’ every weekend, all playing this exact brand of acoustic singer songwriter folk rock, all with a fledgling dream to capture something, something separate from the drudge of their day to day lives, a single moment of euphoric recognition, and how, though futilely optimistic until the end, they never do get anywhere. Well, this album details exactly what Mr Tullett has over all of them; genuine, organic talent. If this talent is adequately nurtured, we can hope to be hearing a lot more from this young man in the future.
Ed’s latest album, To Transfigure and Solve is released on Monday 11th July.