Sydney Morning Herald One Eyed Man Review
Slightly negative “One Eyed Man” review.
Author: Bernard Zuel.
Date: March 2001.
Original URL: (unknown).
This album may be the Melbourne songwriter’s equivalent of Hayden’s West Indies series – the album that gives him the confidence that he can be something other than an earnest trier. He’s not there yet, but his two best moves may have been hooking up with producer Daniel Denholm and setting his sights on Neil Finn.
Denholm has pushed Seymour to sing higher and cleaner, shedding the rugged blue-singlet tone he developed through the Hunters’ years. Now, even when he’s straining a little, as he does in See You Around, the tone suggests attractive vulnerability rather than vocal weakness. Similarly, the slight hoarseness in The Ballad Of The One Eyed Man works to enhance the lyrical emotion rather than overpower it as he was wont to do.
Denholm’s other major contribution is wrapping the songs in a rich organic sound. Organ and piano slightly outweigh dampened guitars. Strings, brass and even tin whistle pepper the arrangements. And the drums pat rather than pound. The overall effect is soulful and warm, much as Mitchell Froom created for the early Crowded House albums. Which neatly brings us to Neil Finn.
Seymour has unashamedly grafted himself on to Finn’s style. Blue Morning and Lost In Your Illusion could be rejects from the final Crowded House album, Together Alone. Strange Little Town is a step-by-step Finn ballad and Sad Songs is a scarily accurate (though overplayed) pastiche. These are the poppiest songs he’s written and some, such as Supagirl, even float with uncharacteristic lightness.
All this is not to suggest that One Eyed Man is better than merely a good record. There are still several instances of Seymour’s clunky manner and his best Neil Finn is still short of the real thing. What’s more, the umpteenth resurrection of Throw Your Arms Around Me (here as a hidden track) is more tedious than tempting.
However, while Seymour will never be a musical Michael Slater, all flair and excitement – and nor should he try, it’s just not in him – at least he can see a few more gaps in the field now.
Some people should stick to cricket.