Album Review: Georgia Fair, Trapped Flame

Jordan Wilson and Ben Riley, members of the twenty-something Melbourne-based duo Georgia Fair, weren’t content to play it safe on their latest record.Their indie/folk sound on their first LP All Through Winter scored them support from online blogs and uniform rotation on community radio nationwide. They broke into the mainstream after the coastal acoustic stylings of “Picture Frames” were used as the backing tune to an ad for Big M.They could easily have rested on their laurels for their follow-up release, and turned out the same glossy folk tunes that gained them this respect and popularity. But instead Trapped Flame sees Georgia Fair undergo a Bob Dylan-esque transformation, swapping acoustic for electric guitars and ramping up production with Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphys) at the mixing board. The boys also tackle more intimate, melancholy subject matter with their lyrics on this record, as if they’re trying to convey a greater maturity and understanding of their existence. This sense of growing up is clear from the outset, with opener “Gloria” featuring the refrain “I don’t want to see you dying”. Meanwhile, American-sounding first single “Love Free Me” speaks of the singer’s search for identity: “I’m love, and I’m free, and I’m me”.At some stages on the album it feels like the band are trying almost too hard to get another hit. Whatever meaning the song “Are We Not Alive” had was lost for me in the ringing lead guitar notes and unyielding chorus: “Are we not alive/We are/We are/We are/We are/Alright.” In the same vein, the swinging beat and anthem vocal style of “Fiery Night” feels like the guys attempt at getting listeners to wave their arms or lighters back and forth in slow motion detracts from the overall gist of the song.For all their efforts to show their coming-of-age on Trapped Flame, it’s the moments on the album most similar to Georgia Fair’s previous material that is the most interesting musically. When the acoustic guitar returns on “The River” and “Wrong Side” without a band or overly impassioned singing for company, the message of the songs become purer and the overall quality is something you’d be willing to give your full attention to listen to.Georgia Fair was perhaps a bit too willing to leave their past and reinvent themselves as musicians on this album, and in the end their decision to play it differently may have been Alexander Darling

October 25th 2013
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