Bernard Fanning - Tea & Sympathy

So you like Powderfinger hey? You like their rock stylings and unique Aussie rock sound? And you decide to buy yourself a copy of Tea & Sympathy, the debut solo album from Bernard Fanning, front man of Powderfinger, one of Australia's best Rock n' Roll bands. Did you expect to get more of the same, as you would from a Powderfinger album? Well think again… this solo effort is vastly different to what you are used to hearing, and in a good way! The voice is the same… but that is where the similarities end.


I hope you didn't get this album (or are thinking of getting this album) because you want more of the same. I love Bernard Fanning's voice and I wanted to hear that first and foremost. He doesn't disappoint. If you were looking for a rock album you will be disappointed. What Bernard Fanning has delivered in his solo debut is a beautiful mellow sound that branches off into a heavier Rock n' Roll taste only briefly on one or two tracks.


With a talent not restricted to the vocal department, this album sees Bernard Fanning lending his hand to a variety of instruments. The use of guitar, piano, harmonica, percussion and bass can all be attributed in some way to Bernard Fanning. There are other musicians that lend a hand to the sound on this album too. I particularly like the sounds of lap steel guitar, harmonica, piano and violins used on this album.


Tea & Sympathy consists of 14 tracks, with most around the 3 minute time frame. The songs give you this feeling of "short and sweet" and consist of some great catchy choruses but in some cases the length of song has you wanting more. It sometimes feels like it is over too soon… especially when you are really enjoying the track, as I did on most of the songs on first listen. I wasn't really all that impressed with the choice of first single Wish You Well, but I appreciate it more on the album when listening to it in context with the rest of the tracks.


The album starts off with Thrill Is Gone, a great inspirational type opener with a bluesy guitar sound that leaves you looking with a positive light at the future, as well as the rest of the album. It moves on with an upbeat happy feel to Wish you Well and is followed straight after by Not Finished Just Yet, a sorrowful feeling track that leaves you contemplating your own thoughts.


Some very funky music heralds the start of Which Way Home? and with a beautiful blend of acoustic guitar, violin and piano we listen to a message of new beginnings and hope for the future in Wash Me Clean. A message that is carried on in a later track… Further Down The Road (a strange choice of Scottish style violin ending off the track). In fact the entire album kind of lends itself to that feel… A positive outlook.


Sleeping Rough and Down To The River are the rock tracks of the album. The final track, Watch Over Me, is slow and mellow and has that untouched vocal sound I like. The one where you can hear the intake of breath and the voice is just so clear and raw.


I really enjoyed this album and although I wouldn't want Powderfinger to break up I wouldn't say no to another solo effort from Bernard Fanning.

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