Tuesday, February 9, 2010

That Boy...

So don’t talk in tongues. ‘Cause you know I’m not what you want me to be. And I could be your canvas, so paint me a picture of what you want me to be, yeah. You distort a simple reason, but I’m too young to be so right. And I will just keep standing, and she will just keep walking away. And if you ask me if I’m alone...I will lie.

You may not recognise the above lyrics, but the man who wrote them is known as Wes Carr. Otherwise known by me as Wezzy McGee. It’s not really cool to be so adoring of a winner of Australian Idol, but Wezzy McGee is not like other ex-idols. He has something else. Something that captivates me and leaves me waiting for more.

Wes, at least to me, has an aura. An invisible blanket of warmth about him that completely envelops me on every occasion that I’ve been in his presence. When he is in the same room, I can’t take my eyes off him. And whenever I hear his voice, it’s both familiar and comforting. His music is like stories written especially for me. It’s a strange thing to feel about someone you barely know, but there it is.

Although his latest release, The Way The World Looks, is quite a commercial offering, the above lyrics were written long before that. He wrote them way before Australian Idol, and way before ‘woah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh’. They were from a song called I Will Lie from an EP he recorded in 2006 called Rhythm To Fly. Written at a time when he was clearly heartbroken, angry and feeling lost, the Rhythm To Fly EP is probably the most bluesy, folky collection of songs he has recorded to date. And definitely the music that has resonated with me the most. Not that the rest of what he has written doesn’t hold substance, in fact, for some reason Wes’ lyrics and vocals affect me more than any other singer-songwriter.

Probably my favourite song Wes has recorded ever is on this EP - a song called Please, which was used recently on the Three Blind Mice soundtrack. The song is probably the most vulnerable of anything Wes has written lyrically, a desperate cry of help from a sad, helpless and depressed soul. His pleading vocals make me want to reach out and give him a cuddle.

When I decided I wanted to write about my favourite music, I put my feet up and reflected on it. I wanted to write about the music that truly got under my skin and turned me inside out, and I found that what I thought about first was Wesley’s warm, gentle smile; his intense, moody blue-grey eyes; and his bluesy, raw, storytelling vocals. There is much about Wezzy McGee that for me, is special. For some he’s just the scruffy, hairy, feral boy that was on Idol, not particularly standing out from the rest and, who more than likely, would suffer the same fate as every other idol. But to me he is different, and yes, I do think he is cute. Hairy and feral and little as he may be, with his thin, almost non-existent lips, I still think he is handsome with his unkempt, yet shiny blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. And his hats always add a few inches to his modest 5”7 frame anyway!

One of the first things that captured me about him from his very first audition on Idol, was his quiet confidence. It was clear that he was comfortable as a performer, yet he had a sort of shy, reserved demeanour. Though I think he has described himself as extraverted in the past, he carries himself with the air of someone who, offstage, is still not always entirely sure about himself as a man. I feel extremely endeared by that. It warms me to see him look nervous when he appears on a show choc full of extremely confident comedians and tv personalities. It makes him relatable. He is also very sincere and a genuinely nice boy.

I’ve met Wezzy McGee three times and he is just the same in real life. He’s so normal, you can’t help but relate to him, and so sweet and kind that you can’t help but like him. He has always gone out of his way to show an interest in me and make me feel important to him. I will never forget his kindness, his intent smile, the time he had for me and those big squeezy hugs. He’s a beautiful boy and his girlfriend is very lucky to have him!

Anyway, I digress. Other than his Rhythm to Fly EP with its bluesy folky vocals and harmonica stamping their mark on the piece, Wes also put together an LP before Idol called Simple Sum. Simple Sum, on some tracks, is a follow on of Rhythm to Fly, and on others a reflection of his love of The Beatles and other sixties and seventies rock and folk music. There is both a pop sensibility to it, and a nostalgic feel, and it’s almost as though an irresistible force is making you sing along and get swept away in the lyrics.

Several songs on this album were written when Wes was just 15 years old. One of them, White Rabbit Day, is one of my favourites of Wes’ songs and like Please, has a melancholy and very lost feel. Another of my favourites, Train to Yesterday, deals with heartbreak and the fear of being hurt again that causes someone to engage in shallow sexual encounters on the rebound. Elsie Brown, inspired by the story of an elderly woman who died in her home and wasn’t found until months later, touches on Wes’ own fears of growing old and dying alone. The album is a diverse one and, at the risk of sounding like a walking cliché, is full of peaks and valleys... an emotional rollercoaster if you will.

Some of you may also be aware of Wes’ previous work with Ben Gillies of Silverchair. In 2005, Wes teamed up with Ben and formed a collaboration called Tambalane. Their songs Free and Little Miss Liar received quite a bit of airplay on Triple J, and their self titled album was a perfect blend of Ben’s Silverchair influences and Wes’ sixties and seventies Brit-Rock love affair. Wes’ gravelly rock vocals and strong Beatles influence are smeared all over this album. Although it didn’t gain much commercial success and the band parted ways after the first collaboration, it is a great rock album that I think many would enjoy even if they don’t think they’d be keen on the work of an Australian Idol.

So that brings us to the present. The Way The World Looks. While this album is admittedly a little more commercial than I would have truthfully expected from Wes, it is still a great record. His bluesy, old school rock influence seasons this album with the ‘Wes’ flavour just as it has everything else he has recorded. He channels Bruce Springsteen in his powerhouse pub anthem Feels Like Woah, an alternate brit-pop influence permeates Any Other Way, and in Love Is An Animal - re-recorded with a more pop like gloss - the initial folky feel that the song had when Wes wrote it at 15 still remains and adds another dimension to the album. The album is as diverse as anything else he has recorded, albeit more a pop album than he has created before. But it’s still sincere, still nostalgic, still like a record he wrote for me, and most importantly it is still Wes.

For those still not convinced, I would predict that Wes’ next album is really going to make a lot of people sit up and pay attention. He has, at this time, written more than half the next album already, and has confirmed song writing collaborations with Don Walker of Cold Chisel, Eskimo Joe and Josh Pyke. I think it is unreal that he has had the opportunity to work with these great people who obviously think highly of him, rather than judging him for his Australian Idol background. Ian Moss, who he toured with for three months last year, described him as being a round peg in a square hole on idol and an old school blues rocker at heart. I agree with him completely. Wes is more than people often give him credit for and I am so looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table in the coming months. If his influences of late are anything to go by – The Clash, Nick Drake, Bon Iver, Bobby Womack, John Lennon, The Finns – it should be a record worth waiting for.

Wezzy McGee, if you are reading this, I’m expecting greatness. But please don’t be scared by that... I believe in you! Always...

Yours, in anticipation of a really great record from my favourite boy,

RB x


  1. This is a really good story Lucy, you have done a good job.
    I hope Wes gets to read it, well done Julie

  2. I agree Lucy, what a great story, everything you have written is so true. Wes is just the best musician and his girlfriend is very lucky to have him. Loved listening to anything Wes sings, he has everything going for him, ;ove Lynne

  3. What a wonderfully written story Lucy!! It puts into words everything Wes is and expresses your passion for his music and just how special he is to you! I really hope Wes gets a chance to read this, as I believe he will truly be chuffed and inspired by it!! Anne xxoo

  4. This is a really good review. I can see your passion for Wes in your writing, and I think it also makes Wes 'The Australian Idol Winner' more believable.
    Well done on a great piece of writing.

  5. Oh and the fact he's been writing with Kevin Mitchell/Bob Evans makes me a little excited :)

  6. Thanks Carly! Yep, I'm pretty excited knowing he has been writing with Kev and Josh and also since this story, the boys from Evermore, and I think he may have done some writing with Mossie too. I'm confident we are all in for a treat! :)


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