Jason Batchelor, aka Tender Grey, is a musician who makes me believe in a sunnier tomorrow. Negative Waves is a succinct quintet of bedroom pop songs that are little else besides Batchelor’s unabashed, untrained voice and a Pickles guitar, folded over together in lo-fidelity production. The music is so frank it hurts, like finding that journal you kept at a particularly disappointing time in your life.
All the songs have a distinct beat-happening vibe. The album is exclusively acoustic, bleary-eyed strumming with the just the right amount of guitar twang for your midnight ruminations. Steady, simple chord changes placed apart just so you barely hang onto Batchelor's next words. Lo-fi the production is, his lyrics are strictly about faith in yourself and others. "Could you stay one more day," he hiccups in the opening lines of "Wolf Dream". "I want you to get from the place that makes you sad." You know, sometimes you just have to toss out the metaphors, the gloss, the poetics and just let people know how you feel. There isn't much dynamic to the lyrics or music but when you group both simple formulas together, you have a potent equation that Batchelor helpfully solves. There's a bit uptempo pep in the cynical "Negative Waves," frank admittance in "Lunar House," and the memories of a first kiss on "Wednesday." The songs here are all sparse and don't rely on amazing guitar playing or singing to carry the songs. Instead the way the chords are strummed and the tone in his voice all come together to create a sense of not only sadness but solace.
There isn't much to say about Negative Waves and yet I want to keep talking about this album. It's the sad acoustic stuff you wish you wrote during the low points to help you deal with life. Time heals old wounds, yes, but I felt my sutures come apart when I heard Batchelor bluntly close the EP with the words, "I don't know what I'll without you, just don't know what I'll do without you."
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