Old Time Sing Song Man
When Tom Waits first emerged in the 1970s he sounded about 30 years older than he was. Archer somehow doubles that, sounding like his own grandfather, and he writes songs you’d swear were first aired before the recording industry was even born. The weird disorientation engendered by someone in the present who seems to have sprung from the past is partly what makes for such gripping listening.
Archer is an American who resides in Victoria and lives the life of a troubadour. His singing is earthy, slightly slurred and thick about the edges, as though it has been filtered through peat. His finger-picking guitar accompaniment is replete with telling little dynamic surges, and the songs – usually observational – are mostly beautifully crafted. Fire and Ben Hall (about the bushranger) are standouts, the originals fleshed out with two spirituals and two old covers. It could all so easily amount to just a twee pastiche, so the wonder is that Archer emerges not only seeming genuine, but even original rather than a lame copy. Opt for the vinyl.