The first time I was told about Travis Gilbert someone described him as looking like a “worn out musician”. Since that day, the former Colly Stings frontman has launched his own personal crusade into music under the guise of Travis is a Tourist, now he doesn’t seem so ‘worn out’.
His first steps out on his own brought us a debut EP as 2013 drew to a close. It is short, but it is one of the most promising strides that has landed in my inbox since I started reviewing local music. Flaunting the smoothness of a natural born vocalist he presents three songs on which his solo career should sprout from.
Opening with the upbeat ‘Shaking’ Travis showcases his signature vocals around gentle acoustic strings and fast paced complimenting percussion. Sandwiched in the middle of the EP is my personal highlight of the three entitled ‘Nothing At All.’ It is the song that I believed the most, which given my lyrical fetish explains my favouritism. The rhythm is controlled the whole way through the track and that youthful disappointment in relationship-shit transcends the speakers. Rounding off the debut is the collaboration with promising young songstress Rosie Carney. ‘Little Conversations’ is perhaps the most varied track instrumentally; the two come together in complete compliment, while the double sided perspective is reminiscent of the affect created by the Damian Rice and Lisa Hannigan connection back in the day.
You will find it hard to bust some shapes to what we have been given so far, but there is definitely a hint of sanctuary in what he has made available. If you catch him live in the future expect to sway and tap feet while caressing a pint or six, there will be no place for mosh. Don’t press me on why exactly, but I can’t escape the idea that TIAT is a reborn and modernised David Gray. Maybe it’s the impression that the songs come across as a natural progression from a musician and not someone on a quest to be tagged as one. Granted Travis has a lot less of the direct love letter about him than Gray, but it’s just something I can’t shake.
TIAT has woven his songs with simple lyrics that manage to create the right mood for the music; important to the singer/songwriter when trying to establish a following who recognise the difference between you and the millions of others. This EP acts as proof that he’s already a musician capable of avoiding the ‘growers’ category and that all he needs now is to be heard and given a chance. The big test is to follow up this EP without a drop in quality. If Travis is in fact a tourist then this debut EP should only be the ride to the airport and much more should be expected from him in the future.
◀ STANDOUT ⁞ Nothing At All ▶
◀ SOUNDS LIKE ⁞ David Gray | Roo Panes ▶