February 8, 2014

Sammi Taylor

Here at Truth4Youth, we first met Cam Nacson in March 2013, when he covered the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit Same Love in order to create an Australian anthem in the fight for marriage equality. The video for Same Love has since clocked up over 40,000 views and Cam himself has been busy recording his sophomore EP—Vernon Avenue.

A follow-up to 2011’s For You to Know and Me to Miss and the 2012 single Crazy Kids, Vernon Avenue is a giant step forward for the singer songwriter. Self-produced and recorded in Cam’s home studio, Vernon Avenue documents experiences of love, loss and self-discovery in a raw and honest manner—something that’s often missing from acoustic pop records. Vernon Avenue has a nostalgia inducing edge in the lyrics, while all the more enveloping the listener into an optimistic hope for the future.

The album title itself holds a special significance for Cam: “Vernon Avenue is the street I was living on in Brooklyn where a lot of these tunes were conceptualised” he says. Though conceived in the U.S.A, the Australian influence is always present in the record, the Sydney-sider paying homage to his city’s streets in The Man Who Kept Us Safe, and having the EP mastered by Ian Pritchett in Sydney’s Noisegate Studios.

The EP begins with Maybe, Maybe, the simplicity of the solo guitar in the opening verse drawing attention to the versatility in Nacson’s voice. The vocals are often whispered and breathy, expressing the sheer vulnerability in the lyrics (These pretty words I write her / Give us something to believe in / She’s got the whole world at her feet / So why does she keep on walking right back to me?) Nacson makes it clear that this is more than an acoustic pop record—it draws influence from the indie-folk likeness of the scene and is completely naked in its honesty. Maybe, Maybe sets up the rest of the EP at a strength: the harmonies are immaculate, the guitar is quietly constant and the violin adds a haunting ambience to the track.

All the Pretty Words serves as an interlude to Track 3, achieving sincerity in its short, minute long duration. “You can’t love someone whole when their heart is torn in two” Nacson croons, accompanied by only his guitar and an echoing reverb. Nacson achieves more in simplicity than most artists could in complexities—the minimal attitude he has approached the EP with flatters his remarkable vocal ability and leaves room for the music to be appreciated for what it is, instead of disguising the authenticity of instruments as many pop artists choose to.

Track 3, Just Come Over, features Mary Rose Bokey on vocals, who also lends a hand as a violinist throughout the entirety of the EP. Just Come Over explores the folk-country influence of the record—Bokey and Nacson’s voice complimenting each other beautifully. Vernon Avenue gets the harmonies right, in all the right places.

Where She’ll Live and Die is haunting in its echoeing vocal runs and initially subtle percussion—rising into a fast-paced, violin driven wall of sound in the crescendo of the last chorus. Hazel is your typical love song dedication (You know I love you more than I should / I swear I’d hold you if I could) while the EP closes with The Man Who Kept Us Safe, a solemn and heartfelt goodbye melody, poignant enough to induce shivers.

Vernon Avenue is released on the 9th of February, 2014. You can pick it up on iTunes.

– Sammi Taylor

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