Canapé King Records
Successor, the new Anthonie Tonnon album, the first – full – solo album starts with a song called Railway Lines. It’s built on The Phoenix Foundation’s version of Krautrock, a Wilco-like chug that continues to build as the lyric grows ever more celebratory, the song seeming anthemic as the chorus chant of “maybe it’s today” feels like a shrugging off of nicknames and band-names and gimmick, finally it is Anthonie Tonnon singing proud – it’s as if (the) Railway Lines which we hear being clicked over and counted off in the music of this piece represent those lyrical lines in Peter Gabriel’s burst of freedom where he exalts, “son – grab your things I’ve come to take you home”.
From there we’re off and into an album that is all about craft, all about the writing, all about the songs as situations and stories. I know this from listening. Over and again. But I knew this, too, from interviewing Tonnon.
The very best songs here focus on that platform where the chug and churn lifts the song, and a purloined piece of musical clothing is draped over Tonnon’s original idea; the lick and curl of late-period Lou Reed guitar in the aforementioned Railway Lines, the Paul Kelly-like proletarian-gospel of Water Underground, the Don McGlashan-esque phrasing (and subject matter, possibly) for Mt. Cargill.
Some of these songs (A Friend From Argentina, The Capital) had the chance to live as highlights of live sets before being pinned down in band arrangements. Others (Mt. Cargill, Bird Brains) feel like fresh-air breathes right here, right now.
What’s best – and cleverest – about Successor, and there are many clever things (great songs, passionate delivery, those clipped Kiwi vowel sounds clowning around within the lyrics, a hot mess of assonance) is the way Tonnon is happy to be a Lawrence Arabia-like bandleader figure one minute (The Songs of Your Youth) and also indulges, still, that Rufus Wainwright-like tendency to be Cabaret Singer Redux (Dumpster Diving), to be the star in and of his own musical theatre.