Album Review: T.J. Quinton-Sorry Business

This Brisbane artist was built for the Woodford Folk Festival with smooth, folky acoustic guitar and calm, quiet vocals. T.J. Quinton is a storyteller. A ‘yarn’ teller, similar to Xavier Rudd, John Butler and Dan Sultan in a way. With a much more simplified shape and sound that is.

Opening track The Owl begins with a twelve string acoustic guitar ringing out, with a second guitar in the background, and a very sombre beat on the drums. T.J.’s vocals have a bit of an Aussie twang, as many of the Aboriginal and Australian Right’s musicians also have, while waving a Sea Shepherd flag on stage and thanking the original owners of the land before playing. You can picture him in the Queen St Mall by himself with his guitar and a stomp box, as the music is simplistic, relaxing, and will probably never get the recognition it deserves as it is a little too dull to be popular.

During Back Here, the second song on the record, it is very similar to the first track, but featuring a strange spoken word section, where you can once more picture the hippy in him coming out during a live performance, as he, like Xavier Rudd and John Butler, would speak about saving the whales or stopping coal seam gas mining out in the bush. During the second spoken word section, he mentions our good friend Gotye as he says ‘as Wally sings Somebody That He Used To Know’. After going over that segment a number of times, it is still difficult to understand how that ties in with anything as T.J. is mumbling.

Track three is Strange To Care and sounds slightly similar to one of Newton Faulkner’s ballads as he has a soulful and strong voice (in parts) put to very soft instrumentation. However, T.J. uses a string quartet during this song, showing his diversity.

The thing that shines through on this is really his guitar playing. Unfortunately the mixing and mastering of the album sometimes shifts the levels of the guitars and the vocals, meaning you really miss out on certain things. In this reviewer’s particular opinion, if this was a full album of solely acoustic guitar playing, it would be much more effective. But if the record was done with maybe some more exciting instruments and an upbeat and stronger feel, it would also be much more effective.

That is contradictory, but T.J. Quinton just doesn’t seem to have ‘it’ on Sorry Business, his debut album, but he shows such amazing talent and sure captures your attention in a ‘it is building into something great, I can tell’ kinda way. While he never hits that moment of musical perfection that you anticipate, you see what he can do, and the very final track shows that he can craft a great pop song. This is what he needs to focus on if he wants to achieve success; more structured songs with more basic instruments like guitar, bass and drums. Sure, he can add in the violins, but humanity is too daft and stupid to appreciate some great classical instrumentation. But if he keeps the depth and intricacy, just structures it all a little better, he can do it!

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