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It’s tempting to be dismissive on receiving a CD by a young singer-songwriter touted as yet another “next big thing.” But asI tapped my toes, smiling at quirky phrases on this self-titled album, I knew Coleman warranted further regard. The Tasmanian is familiar on his home circuit with touring experience on the mainland and abroad as well. Press blurbs tell of mental health
challenges, but I find myself talking to a man with an unassuming sense of humour and a pretty sound attitude to life and art.
We’re all overwhelmed occasionally by expectations, obligations and change. Coleman compares the comfort of home in Hobart’s ‘burbs to his challenging time away. “It’s a pretty peaceful, slow pace down here. The biggest contrast was London. Sydney the first time and then London trumped that.”
He’ll be joined by members of the shifting Collective line up in capital cities for his upcoming tour. “When I get to other towns I’ll scout around on the street and see if I can find a harmonica player here or there,” he says. “Hopefully that works out, but a lot of shows will be solo.” The album boasts 10 thoughtful and well-crafted folk/roots songs. Coleman usually writes “at two or three in the morning when the brain doesn’t have as many inhibitions.”
His father and two siblings contributed writing on two tracks. “We always had guitars, keyboards and ukuleles floating around the house… always singing doing the dishes,” he laughs. “Some of the songs have been marinating for a few years.” Lyrics reveal a natural poetic bent. There’s also some flat-out rock (‘Mr Smooth’), likely spurred by an early love of Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Later inclinations to narrative song writing (Cohen, Dylan) and literature (Richard Flanagan, Alain de Botton) have also rubbed off. “I don’t really enjoy listening to much music now at all. Maybe that’s a phase. When I do, it’s kind of soundscape or classical music, which I don’t understand or can’t hear what someone’s trying to do.” The song ‘Dandelion Flower’ leads me to ask what he’d wish for. “I had really no idea what that ramble was about when I first wrote it. It was just a stream of
consciousness thing. But I guess I’d wish for some form of peace,” he decides.
Some of Coleman’s fondest performing memories came from playing pre-war tunes with a friend at a nursing home. “Just a couple of idealistic kids trying to work out the meaning of the universe. We didn’t find it… but it was such a pleasure. The words and the melodies [often] came straight back to the residents as if they were 19 again.”
He’s clearly bound for a long future in music,a financially variable industry. His needs are simple enough right now. He laughs, “I’ve still got a little body fat on me and roofs every night. On the road, I love to have my own room [where possible] to recharge. I just need headphones, books… all escape mechanisms really. Sometimes I’m excited for human contact or at others, completely fearful of it. A man of many contradictions and much confusion.” Just enough I reckon. Chris Lambie