Our pick of the week's best new releases is the emotive, life-affirming latest album from the Australian songwriter and woodworker
A long time ago, a friend told me that her mother described grief as a room in a house. Sometimes you’ll be busy running around, ending up in that room without thinking and be floored by its sudden impact. Other times, you’ll choose to go in and sit there for a while, letting it just wash over you.
Back in 2019, Lachlan Denton released one of the most devastating albums about grief. A Brother was an emotionally raw half an hour about his brother Zac, who died in 2018 aged just 24. It was the Australian songwriter’s A Crow Looked At Me, an album of almost unbearable beauty, honesty, love and loss that demanded a steeling of the soul before wading back in again.
Denton’s not exactly been quiet since. In 2021, he released the brilliant Something Is Going To Change Tomorrow, Today. What Will You Do? What Will You Say? with collaborator Emma Russack, but Furnishings finds him back solo again and back reflecting on his family. That the opening song is titled ‘Zac’ is enough cause for a deep breath before pressing play.
If A Brother was the raw wound of loss, Furnishings is the bandage. It’s a warm, beautiful album that feels alive and wide-eyed without being saccharine or sentimental. Its laidback charm recalls Denton’s great Aussie contemporaries from Good Morning to The Twerps.
After all the pain, absence and love of A Brother, Denton turned partially away from music and poured his energy into furniture-making (take a look at his Instagram, the guy’s got a gift). Everything he’s learned and processed in the ensuing years has amassed into Furnishings, 12 songs that feel like someone returning to difficult subjects with the benefit of a few years’ distance and space. It’s sitting in that room of grief, not to be sad, but to remember.
Furnishings is divided between songs dedicated to Denton’s family (‘Zac’, ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’, ‘Lucas’, ‘Braeside’, ‘You’) and songs that appear to reference his love of furniture-making (‘Workshop’, ‘Bookshelf’). What unites both elements is a sense of appreciation, vitality and love, all brought into focus by Zac’s death. The gorgeous synth-pop single ‘You’ pulls both into the same song, matching the lyrics’ deeply romantic fatalism with a video of Denton in his workshop.
Among the 12 songs here are some of Denton’s finest to date. The Kevin Morby-esque ‘Bookshelf’, the sweetly adoring ode to his older brother ‘Lucas’, the jangling hooks of ‘Lose’ – Denton seems to have hit a seam where everything he touches is gold. The unfussy production and sparse instrumentation just amplify how good these songs really are. Furnishings is an understated gem that deserves to receive back the love that emanates from its every corner.
Released: 14 April 2023
Label: Bobo Integral
On Tour: TBC