The track, Bad Lover, is available via:
23rd November, 2018
BEFORE I get to the positive…
and music-based aspects of Jeremy Tuplin; I need to look at a sense of anonymity that has creeped into music. It is not a slight against anyone or a criticism but, more and more, an identity has been lost from new music. Maybe it was like that before but, with mainstream acts, you have these interviews and longer biographies that give you a sense of who they are, what music influences them and where they are heading. You can watch YouTube videos and read articles that give you insight and explanation; a fuller picture that builds a sense of who we are dealing with and what we can expect. A lot of rising artists do interviews but most prefer to go for reviews as a sense of publicity. The issue with a lack of interviews, especially video interviews, is the mystery behind the artist. Only the music remains so we have to piece together what we can from what we hear. That is okay in a sense but music is much like a business and attraction. Before you get to the music itself, you have the social media pages. You need something that attracts you and hooks the mind; a bit of background and story that gets you invested and gives a sense of explanation. If there is a few lines – or fewer – then you never really know where that artist came from and who they are. Jeremy Tuplin has a lot of great aspects and qualities – as I shall investigate – but many will experience his social media pages before the music. Maybe they will be struck by the music itself but, once heard, there is that desire to discover more about the man. I am not suggesting every artist has video interviews and a spread up but few have a fuller biography. For someone like me, who writes 4,000-word reviews, you need some personal details, unique aspects and points to work off; explain who the artist is and where they have come from – before you get down to the music.
PHOTO CREDIT: Holly Whittaker
It is happening a lot, and not a shot at musicians, but there is a lot of good in Tuplin’s work and locker that you want to see it on the page. I want to know where he comes from and how music struck him; what his songs are about and what separates him from the pack. Many feel giving a lot away means people will not listen to the music or it will not leave mystery but there is a danger that too little will be revealed and someone will move along. You need to attract labels and venues; get festival organisers and radio stations onto your pages and they need to know a little bit about the artist. It does not need to be a story and long explanation but something in the way of background and ambitions is a way of making it easier for the listener and potential fan. Tuplin is an interesting and rounded music and, in these competitive times, putting some background into the mix, I feel, would give him an edge. The legends and icons of music endured and influenced because we heard them being interviewed and we understood what drove them and got to match that with the music they were putting out. In a steaming age where we are exposed to so much choice and colour; how are we going to decide what is best and whether we should stop and investigate? Photos and information are important as the music themselves but, at the end of the day, a strong sound is what people stick around for. The most important parts of Tuplin is his music and its sense of personality. When you listen to the man sing and get involved with his music, you start to get an impression of who inspires him and what makes him tick. Maybe allowing the music to work hard and the imagination to stretch is a good way of challenging listeners but I still would like to know more about the man and his personality.
PHOTO CREDIT: Holly Whittaker
Listening to a song like Bad Lover and you get a real indication of an artist who can go a long way. I will talk about conscientiousness and a different angle in music; what sort of sounds can shape 2019 and the challenges facing new musicians – I will end by thinking where Tuplin can go and what his future holds. I am drawn to voices and a sense of the original. You do not often get that and it can be hard to find in the mainstream. Look at artists at the top of the game and it can be a bit hard deciphering whether a band/artist is worth some time. Their sounds might be a bit samey or uninspired and the songs talk about the same things. Pop relies a lot on diary-entry confessions and heartbreak. This can get a bit weighty and haunting; the vocals can stand out but I am still finding a lot of repetition on the whole. Other genres of music provide some eclectic nature but I am still seeing more boldness and promise coming from the underground. Someone like Jeremy Tuplin is unshackled by a big label and is not having to conform to what is deemed popular and trendy. When one hears him sing and the music flow; you get a hint of artists like Scott Walker and Nick Cave. There is a combination between classic croon and something darker and more coffee-rich. The more I hear his voice, the more I want to know about the young Tuplin and how it came to him. The lyrics and music resonate and absorb into the skin but it is the voice that makes that huge impact. It is hard to link it to another artist too strongly because there are a lot of different shades and sounds combining.
It has that depth and alluring quality but there is maturity and wisdom. Many people overlook the voice and what it holds and go straight to other angles. I am always looking for artists whose voices stand out and remain. With the slew of talent shows and the factory-processed artists coming along; do we really value a special and standout singer? Jeremy Tuplin has a presence and sense of captivation that will keep you by his side. You can learn a lot about someone from their voice and the way they project. On his latest single, there is vulnerability but there is playfulness. Some people have remarked he has a humour and playfulness one would not imagine hearing his voice and that is what makes him so complex. Reviews and commentators have noted how there is this natural link between the oddity of someone like David Bowie and the gravity of Leonard Cohen. Tuplin’s upcoming album, Pink Mirror, suggests Nick Drake (in its title) and previous work has seen astronauts and space come into play. Tuplin’s voice might be grounded and have that deeper quality but the lyrics take you all over the place and into other worlds. You get something unconventional and conversational in the music. Many artists push the listener away and do not really bring them in. Tuplin talks about something personal and real but he is willing to let you in and allow you to become part of the music. One of the best aspects about his songs is the accessibility. One can understand what he is writing about and what makes him tick. The reality and conversation in the music makes it real and brings much more life to play. So many songs are one-sided and too personal and you never get a sense of progression, story and adventure. Tuplin’s songs are more like plays or novels in a sense. Rather than have something insular and detached, you have a writer who can pen these stunning and imaginative songs. I Dreamt I Was an Astronaut was released earlier this year and Pink Mirror will be out in March. It will be interesting to see how Tuplin has developed and grown between albums.
Tuplin’s last single, Long Hot Summer, raised money for Friends of the Earth and was designed to get people thinking about the planet and what is happening to it. The fact the wildfires in California have devastated homes and claimed lives shows how brutal and frightening climate change is. Global warming is costing us so much already and the forecasts are bleak. It is told more and more lives will be lost and money spent to help protect the planet from the worst effects of global warming. It is great Tuplin took this approach and did something good. You get the feeling he is a conscious writer who thinks more deeply about the world. If Long Hot Summer’s proceeds went to charity and there was that desire to raise awareness then what he is producing now takes your mind elsewhere. The reason I mentioned his previous single and its merits is because you have a musician who is not just here to make music and that is it. You feel like he wants to change the world and make a real impression. You do not get many who go out of their way to raise awareness, make things better and get people thinking more strongly about the world around them. Tuplin’s lyrics and sense of story demonstrate a keen and flexible mind that links him to classic songwriters. I have mentioned Nick Cave and Nick Drake; two songwriters whose music takes you someone special and grabs you by the lapel. You have the strength of the voice but, when you listen to what is being sung, you are brought into this fantastic world. Rather than sing about broken hearts and get people to sympathise with him; Tuplin projects these sweeping stories, glorious worlds and tackles conventional topics with a fresh perspective. It is rare finding a songwriter who does that and can make the music so honest and open – whilst still leaving some mystery and room for interpretation.
PHOTO CREDIT: Richie Phillips
We are moving into the new calendar year and that will get people wondering what sounds will dominate. The ‘sounds of 2019’ have not been published yet – they happen in December and January – so I am not 100% certain what is being demanded. I feel Pop will play a large role but Grime and Rap are making more of an impact. YouTube have presented their ones to watch for next year and there is a great blend of Rap, Pop and Grime. There is a bit of Rock and Alternative on the fringes but it is more varied than last year – where one got the sense the new Pop breed were what critics were looking forward to. Pop is always going to be at the forefront but people are seeking something a bit more potent, charged and, maybe, less personal. Given the times we are living in right now; there is a split demand between escapist music and artists who are addressing something more relevant and important. Tuplin fits between those two camps. His music has that escape and fantasy but it is much more stirring and long-lasting than mere love songs. His voice, lyrical style and mystical blends will spike a few ears and fit in with what 2019 promises. It might be a few years before he gets on these big lists but I feel, right now, he is readymade for 2019 and what the public needs. Rather than the sugary Pop artists or processed sounds; we still want something energised and interesting but imbued with more personality, strength and importance. How one defines ‘importance’ is personal but something that goes beyond cliché heartache and anxiety is a nice change of pace. I do not feel a lot of the 2018 tips have paid off and I feel next year will be a bigger one for music. I shall stay on this topic because there is a lot to unpack before we get to next year.
Jeremy Tuplin will fit into the pack because he has already won hearts and gathered kind words. Critics have noted his strengths and unique flair and highlighted him for big things. What strikes me is how varied his work is. There is a distinct sound with Tuplin but he allows his music to breathe and vary between releases. Next year is a big one because we have been through so much political stress and division and it is hard to know exactly what sort of music will comfort us. I do not feel the Pop mainstream is sufficient enough but we do not want to embrace artists too soft and vague; those that are slight or writing in a very predictable way. I have spoken about personality and how it is important to get a sense of the artist and what makes them write. Embracing complete and original artists is, I think, what people are going to look for next year. Tuplin has a terrific sound and it definitely lingers in the brain. I am excited to see where he might head and what 2019 holds. I know there will be an album and many journalists and radio stations will get a hold of it. Many might claim the sound appeals more to a ‘mature’ audience – those who experienced legends like Nick Cave back in the day – but, really, Tuplin appeals to all demographics. Many artists have a narrow sound that only markets to a certain audience but Tuplin’s music goes a lot further. I will end this section of the review because, before I get to his new single, I want to look at challenges that face artists next year. It is exciting as we head into 2019 but there are some considerations that need to be addressed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Richie Phillips
Jeremy Tuplin, like his peers, is gearing up for an album release and has ambitions. He will have goals regarding gigs, festivals and success and I am sure he is looking to boost his fanbase. I will end by looking at Tuplin and how he can grow next year but he already has a lot of quality and love his way. His social media numbers have risen and there are some glowing reviews that he has received. More and more artists coming onto the scene means there is going to be that competition and need to distinguish yourself. It is all very well for talented artists to come along and put out material but is that focus and hard work enough? The most important deciding factor between the promising and successful is those who can match an original sound with that hard work. I see so many artists put out music and promote themselves heavily but you never really return that often. So many repeat what is out there or feel they need to be close in sound to the masses – that is the mark of popularity and what will get them fans. I know it is hard to be special and standout with so many people around but many artists are so narrow regarding their compositions and lyrical templates. You have to wade strong and long so you can get into crystal waters and discover those who have their own vibe and do not closely stick to what is already out there. The challenges, therefore, is being able to have that distinction and letting people know about it. Tuplin has already proven himself but will be pitching himself all over again as he readies another album. At the start of every year, critics and fans are looking around for new heroes and they will want to see who is making the biggest moves. Tuplin has a solid and appealing sound but I would also suggest a bit of an introduction. Maybe a small video or an interview would be a good accompaniment to his incredible sounds and make for a perfect pitch to those recommending artists to watch in 2019.
The start of any song is vital and important. People are going to be sold in the first few seconds and, if you present something a bit wooden or wandering then they will go elsewhere. Bad Lover starts quiet and then there is a brief moment when you can feel a transition happening. Spirited and racing electric strings have a light feel but there is urgency there as well. Wordless vocals, male and female, sound almost tribal and it is an uplifting and alluring tonic. I got some hints of Nick Cave and the way he can use harmonies but also a bit of Paul Simon in his Graceland period. It is unusual to start a song with harmonies and something melodic because most artists go in with lyrics or they let the music hover in the ether – leaving the harmonies and moments like this to the chorus. Tuplin makes sure he grips people from the outset and you are always wondering where the song is headed. Tuplin’s delivery, when he comes to the microscope, has a quick and matter-of-fact sound and barely pauses for breath. It seems like Tuplin could be broken-hearted and twist what is inside him out and spit venom; he could complain and blame someone else and he is contemplating how to progress. You sense a slight wink and commentary regarding songs and how there is always this need to accuse and find fault with the other party. Maybe Tuplin is predicting how people will react to the song – he is blaming the girl and what she has done – and the opening lines subvert expectations and, instead, ponder and show a little bit of humour. The voice has that deep quality that gives the words seriousness, but the composition has an airiness and playful, tactile nature that balances the mood. If we are naming names - I know that is an easy thing to do – then I can hear bit of The Divine Comedy and The National.
PHOTO CREDIT: Richie Phillips
The vocal and deep tones remind me of the U.S. band but it is Neil Hannon that comes through. That sense of wit and intelligence; his accent and way with words, I feel, has made an impression on Tuplin. It seems like there is this devil inside him and something that keeps coming out. Whatever has happened in the past is happening again. Maybe he is in a new relationship and Tuplin can see patterns emerging. Rather than accuse her of being a mess and screwing him around; I get the feeling the man is looking inside himself and unable to resist the urge to be a bit mean. The chorus harmonies give the song its relief and, in a way, causal humour – after such strong and personal words, we get this rather cute sound – that makes it so rich. I know there is some blame regarding his lovers but Tuplin is looking at himself and wondering whether he should keep some emotions and temptations locked away. The hero talks about the cosmos and altering lives and feels, rightly, it is personal decisions and what we know for sure that affects our actions rather than the heavens. The girl seems to be patient and knows what she is in for but Tuplin seems to be more solid and secure on his own. Perhaps that is a harsh conclusion but the ease of compatibility has not come to his door. I get the sense there are these moments when things got serious and he is unable to invest himself. All the great songwriters that Tuplin might be drawn to – from Nick Cave and Tom Waits to Neil Hannon – have found happy love but they have worked hard and long to find that security. I am not sure whether Tuplin is in a long-term relationship or whether he is finding himself going through the motions time and time again.
The contrast between the fast-flowing and deep-voiced lines sit nicely against those flowing and harmonious vocals. One feels the hero is looking for a sense of comfort and satisfaction but might not be seeking something permanent right now. Even though he is quite open with his thoughts; I was left wondering whether the blame – regarding the temporary status of his affections – lies with the woman or with himself. There is culpability on both sides but it appears Tuplin knows he has flaws and does not seem to be too cut up about his fate. Bad Lover is a delirious, serious and humorous song that has these contrasts and these voices working and blending together. Although the track seems to whisk by quickly and delivers its message without much pause; you will come back and listen to it time and time again. Tuplin has a couple more tour dates and you will get a chance to see him in his element. I love Bad Lover and feel it has that classic edge to it. I have only mentioned songwriters like Nick Cave because Tuplin can match them and leave you wanting more. He is so different to what is out there at the moment and makes you wonder what comes next. I cannot wait for his new movements and see how he follows Bad Lover. Listen back, too, to Tuplin’s previous work and see all the wonderful stories and strands that play alongside one another.
I have talked a lot about Tuplin’s various qualities but there has been some constructive feedback. I do not usually bother doing that with artists I do not feel have longevity and potential for growth. It is clear Tuplin will continue to evolve and make his way to the top but I feel a quicker way to get into the collective consciousness is a bit more detail. His photos are great but maybe another shoot will come the closer we get to the release of his album. The visual side is great – rare to find among current artists – and the sound is incredible. Having a few interviews or putting something out that would accompany what is already available would strengthen his foundations and be attractive to new fans. It is hard to know how much to give away and what to say in this streaming age but I feel it is easy to strike a balance between too much and too little. The music from Tuplin is turning heads and, in years to come, what people remember and listen to. There are so many musicians who will fade away but I know Tuplin will continue to work. You can mention artists like Nick Drake, Nick Cave and David Bowie when thinking about his sound but Tuplin is his own man – but he does have qualities of these great icons. I have not encountered too many new artists who have so many appealing and interesting facets. I know many new followers will come the way of Jeremy Tuplin next year and Bad Lover is a great examples of why people are raving. Maybe I have been a bit hard in places but it is only because I am invested. I have met so many similar and predictable artists this year and most of them will evaporate from the mind and not be remembered. Tuplin is someone who continues to impress and strike and I feel he has an opportunity to make some huge steps. Bad Lover might seem like a negative title and something that will drag you down but, even after one listen, it is clear we are dealing with a very...
PHOTO CREDIT: Holly Whittaker
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PHOTO CREDIT: Holly Whittaker