Oliver Mann: The Possum Wakes at Night
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CD / Digital
Design by Mark Gowing
Oliver’s background as an artist partly began in classical music and opera – he sings with the Victorian Opera and curates an annual Schubert recital. However, he also spent many years home-recording his songs as well as playing them in pubs, often accompanied by a compelling yarn during sets. His love for telling a tale also comes into his weekly performing for children’s story time at his local library, this playing a defining role in his unique take on song. Add to that a love of Elvis Presley, golden-era musicals and early blues and you have in Oliver a vision pushing past the point of merely eccentric into the shiningly enigmatic. The Possum Wakes At Night is a vast yet intimately detailed work, both in sound and feeling. Oliver’s voice can shoot from a booming baritone to a soprano with an elasticity that plays into the arrangements of his songs, shaping their folkish hue into boundless realms with a whimsical zeal. It’s a place to imagine drums that sound like fireworks, classic rock and classical timbres taking flight together, operatic lament couched in blues feeling and gospel jigs to light up any lounge room. Appearing on the album are The Dirty Three’s Jim White, Karl Scullin (the man behind Kes and Kes Band), harpsichord player David O’Brien and Grand Salvo, otherwise known as Paddy Mann and also Oliver’s brother. No less than three soprano singers – Fiona Clarke, Monica Sonand and Jordina Howe - accompany Oliver throughout as well, who aside from his own keening voice, fluidly moves from guitar to harmonica and percussion in pursuit of a widescreen pop vision unlike any other. The Possum Wakes At Night, with its awestruck, uplifting atmosphere is an album simply altogether infectious - this is a unique chronicling of pure joy.