Opening acts are not usually something I look forward to when seeing a band live in concert; but that all changed, courtesy of a talented, young Sunshine Coast native, and current Melbournian who goes by the name of Edward R. (real name Geoffrey Roberts). Blown away by the sheer musical talent and charismatic stage presence, my heart was captured as the suave gentleman in a red leather jacket made the stage his own as the opening act for The Temper Trap in his native Queensland. Ever since, I have followed Geoffrey’s musical endeavours and was more excited than most for the release of his debut EP Agrabah.

The release is named after a remote cabin on a farm owned by his parents, which is named after the fictional city which serves as the central location of the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, and for good reason, as the cabin served as Edward’s personal beat lab and home as he worked in solitude to write, record, and produce a plethora of music for a number of different projects. Listening to the EP however, you’d never guess all of it was done by one man, and one so young with so little prior discography at that, it’s truly impressive and a testament to his ability as an artist. It’s not easy to source inspirations for the musical style, though artists like the aforementioned Temper Trap, and to a lesser extent acts like Coldplay or Mumford and Sons, but to try and compared the young musician to anyone else would do him a disservice.

In just 18 minutes, and 5 tracks, Edward R. takes you on an emotional musical journey, as you’re drawn in through the beautifully crafted instrumentation and soulful lyrics. Songs vary in mood and tone from the triumphant and euphoric “Wolves and the Water”, or “Who’s Going To Love You”, to the melancholy and heartfelt “Dance for Me” and “Time Will Tell”, but all are equally sublime in their creation, and ability to evoke emotion in the listener. It’s easy to imagine these tracks serving as the emotional soundtrack to films of youth, and lost loves, and years gone by. The combination of sounds, with melodic piano lines, thundering drum beats, and soft strumming guitar sections provide a perfect backdrop for Edward R.’s powerful vocals, which take centre stage on the EP and for good reason. As good as the production is, as beautiful as the music is, what stays with you after listening to the tracks is the voice. The kind of voice you can picture sat by the fire with an acoustic guitar, singing to family and friends, and the kind of voice you can picture on stage, stunning an audience of thousands.

If this is what the young solo artist is capable of doing on his own, locked away in a cabin come studio, then I cannot begin to imagine what wonders would result from some time in a professional environment. Perhaps though, what makes Agrabah so good, is that it is the product of one man, and his vision alone, without external input or interference. Perhaps what makes this EP so massively enjoyable and impressive sounding, is that it is a truly solo effort, and what the artist fully intended it to be. Either way, this EP serves as one of the best Australian, and Indie Pop Rock releases of the year, and I can assure you I will wait with bated breath for whatever Edward R. has to offer next.

★★★★

– Kieran Griffiths

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