A famous musical producer once said, to paraphrase, “the final collaborator on any music, is the audience, until they’re brought in, the work isn’t complete.” For the sonic journey that began in Melbourne, via Dublin, Nashville and New York, the artistic collaboration of Tarmac Adam is now complete, and along with their fans, they may have just introduced the album of the year; The History Effect. The first single, “Chalk on Slate,” is already garnering attention from Undercurrents Radio Network, whose programming runs on over 126 NPR and non-commercial stations across the U.S. and a promotional tour is planned for spring of ‘13.
Tarmac Adam is the creation of Melbourne, Australia-based songwriter Matt O’Donnell and multi-instrumentalist Steve Paix. Later, Rueben Alexander signed up to play drums, and the group was completed with the arrival of Crowded House bass player, Nick Seymour. The Crowded House connection is part of the ‘history effect’ that colors this album. Nearly ten years ago, O’Donnell and Paix, with guitarist Sean McVitty, had the full-House rhythm section – Seymour and the late Paul Hester – performing on Tarmac’s debut album Handheld Torch. Import copies found their way on to US radio, but the journey changed course and the band went their separate ways; to far-flung locations and the joyful challenges of fatherhood.
Those experiences inspired lyricist Matt O’Donnell, and a decade later, new songs emerged. So enticing were the songs that Nick Seymour got on a plane and the rest is The History Effect. The album’s very cover shot, an endless roadway vista, reflects its ten year journey, and the name of the band, as Matt explains, “Tarmac Adam is our play on the original name for tarmac. But also that sense of ‘Adam’ – the first man, the Everyman – on life’s journey, a journey we all travel.”
An early champion of the band, Melbourne newspaper The Age, wrote, “…the appeal of Tarmac Adam is about intimacy and soundscapes…” This intimacy is like those thoughts that fill your head just before you go to sleep, transporting you into the dream.
O’Donnell drew much of his inspiration for The History Effect from, oddly enough, a single day, “We’d just had the annual family Christmas gathering, and for me it just opened out into all these themes – getting older, acknowledgement, aspiration, regret, acceptance.” It will resonate with anyone who has had their fair share of life’s ups and downs. The musical palette of Tarmac Adam – including a haunting cameo from rising star Maddy Hay on “You As Me” – makes it a lush listening experience from start to finish with a narrative thread of bittersweet reflection and hopeful longing. Like the rearview mirror on the album’s cover, who we are and where we’re headed is defined by where we’ve been. That’s The History Effect.