Audio Mixer: Jono Steer.
Recording information: Auburn Uniting Church; SingSing South; SingSing Studio, Richmond, Melbourne.
Arrangers: Leigh Fisher; Ben Abraham; Jono Steer.
The debut studio long player from the Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, Sirens was originally issued, to much regional acclaim, in Australia in 2014. An alluring talent with a soulful voice that invokes names like Peter Gabriel, Glen Hansard, and Gotye, the latter of whom helped to produce one of Sirens' best cuts, the emotionally charged "Speak," Abraham's original calling was film. The son of a pair of Indonesian pop stars who hit it big in the '70s with their band Pahama, Abraham spent nearly a decade working odd jobs, including a part-time stint in a hospital, before putting Sirens together. Opening with the title track, a lush bit of almost ambient, cinematic folk-pop that barely lasts a minute-and-a-half, Sirens is a both deeply personal and wholly accessible. Abraham's powerful delivery and penchant for wrapping his lead in a swirl of rotating, heavenly backing vocals, suggests Coldplay derived of its studio excesses, but that doesn't mean the young Aussie doesn't have a populist's temperament. While it's true that much of Sirens seems tailored toward dead-of-night/wee-hours-of-morning contemplation, there are genuine, though never hubristic, moments of grandeur. The aforementioned, slow burning "Speak" carries the most sonic might, but it's the lovely "This Is on Me," a duet with Sara Bareilles, that elicits the most raw emotion. Bucolic as a song like "Collide" is, with its sunset vistas and easy, James Taylor-esque gait, it builds to a nice, mild-mannered fury, due in large part to the natural power of Abraham's voice, which always seems on the verge of taking flight. While it never really does, the promise of going full-Vesuvius is always there, and it lends an element of danger and unpredictability to what are otherwise fairly routine, yet compellingly delivered melodies. ~ James Christopher Monger