It’s amazing what potluck it can be picking up a reviewing assignment. Sometimes it’s an artist you know, sometimes someone you’ve asked for or hunted down desperately over the years. Other times it’s a leap in the dark: you open the email, click on the soundcloud link, start listening and pick through the bio and the PR blurb while you take it all in.
Tall Tree 6Ft Man originates with singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Czerwik, based in Cambridge, my hometown. The band he has assembled for this record is, essentially, Blusher, for anyone who was knocking around Camden in the early noughties. The presence of Jon Clayton (bass), Jen Macro (guitars) and Chopper (drums) was enough to sit me up straight. I only saw them once (Gill Sandell completed the line-up), being supported by Chris T-T, but they melted my mind their set was so strong, so loud.
So it’s something of a surprise that ‘Boundaries’ is so hushed, so gently shimmering, so redolent of moderately hungover mornings, smoking roll-ups on a quiet patio in light pre-summer sunshine, air fresh, breeze light, not entirely sure what happened the night before other than a comfortable good time in friendly company.
Which is to say that this is the kind of record that you can quite happily ask to accompany you as you slowly wake up, as you try to work out what else you ought to be doing. And it’s a consistent listen – setting aside the unconvincing ‘Computers’ with its contrived-feeling rhymes and the odd disconnectedness of its middle section. ‘The Way It Shapes You’ is a pretty piano-led ballad, and ’40 bags’ has a pleasing lope of a rhythm and twinkling percussion. But it’s telling that it’s really only the opening instrumental ‘Bell 1’ that has stayed with me after repeated plays. For a while it was hard to decide whether or not there was too much going on, whether the beautiful breakdown was betrayed by the sudden appearance and pace of the drums, but I can’t stop listening to it; so the answer is that on that song at least they’ve nailed it.