There’s nothing like a classic love song to whallop you in the guts. Cameron Avery’s first single from his recently released debut, ‘C’est Toi’ is like the 85% dark chocolate you get when you’re feeling extra indulgent at the supermarket; so rich it’s almost too much to eat in one sitting. I can’t remember where I was when I first heard this, but I can remember what it did to my brain, which sort of oozed down the back of my skull in line with those swirling string arrangements. And it’s always a trip when you look up the writer and realise that you’ve been listening to his music in one way or another for nearly a decade.
Cameron Avery, for those like me who haven’t been reading their liner notes in detail, has been a fixture on the Perth music scene for ages. He plays in psychedelic supergroup Pond, collaborates separately with frontman Nic Allbrook and also has been a foot soldier in Tame Impala. That’s a strong pedigree to begin with, but still doesn’t quite prepare you for the troubadour, Father John Misty meets Nick Cave situation that is his latest incarnation. That seems to be the product of stepping out on his own and moving to LA (those traffic jams must bring out the classicist in people), winding up in an excellent album of West Coast soft rock.
‘C’est Toi’ is the jewel in the crown, though, which Avery probably knew the second he finished writing it. It’s built off a simple chord progression on piano and Fender Rhodes and a melody that lasts about ten seconds before jumping off the falsetto cliff. It’s deliberately measured, with all the goodness being wrung out of each 3/4 bar. Guitars chime in, snares crack, vocals pile in of top of themselves and it almost shimmies under the influence of itself. With the major idea established within the first two minutes, it’s a ballsy move to ultimately push past six, but such is the rich sonic terrain that you kind of want to envelop yourself in it for as long as possible. The vocals become an ornament to a gorgeous string lead line in the last strains of the track, and every verse throws up another dimension to Avery’s voice. Often artists participate in these sort of genre experiments but it falls flat; either it isn’t believable or they try too hard. With ‘C’est Toi’, Avery hits the ultimate sweet spot. Though it came out at the end of last year, but like a scented candle in a lover’s room, it’s burning it’s way right through my 2017.