Juan Alban : Too Long In Flight

Former Epicure frontman Juan Alban describes Like I Never Was At All - the second track on his debut solo EP, Too Long In Flight - as alluding to "not wanting to exist at all; nothing morbid, just peaceful defeat". Suffice to say, the Ballarat-born singer-songwriter knows a great deal about the sacred art of writing melancholy songs - he formed Epicure at the age of 16, released five albums, embarked on several memorable tours, and garnered respect for the sincerity of his songwriting and the band's impassioned live performance up until their farewell tour last May. However, there was always that niggling thought that Alban was capable of (and striving for) more: the evidence is in Too Long In Flight - this is Alban at his most personal and poignant.


Produced by Cameron McKenzie (Horsehead, Epicure), Alban also recruited several musician friends for Too Long In Flight, including Steven Clifford (guitar), Joe Cope (keys), David Oxley (bass), Matt Vance (drums), Michael Hubbard (pedal steel/vocals) and Yuko Nishiyama (vocals). Opener Circle The Wagons is instantly affecting with its pensive verses and soaring blues-y chorus.


Alban's affecting, breathy vocals are sublime atop the crushing percussion, searing guitars and glistening keys of Like I Never Was At All. A folk-rock gem that speaks of finding freedom and optimism amidst the despair and resignation, Like I Never Was At All is one of Alban's most impassioned and compelling compositions. The EP's title takes its name from a heart-rending lyric in brooding alt-country rocker, Ambulance, in which Alban cries: "I sit awake through the night / Like a weary bird too long in flight".


Put Me Under encapsulates Alban's prime traits - intimacy, introspection and sensitivity. The ballad is driven by a sparse electric guitar melody rather than acoustic, and espouses a dreamy, whispered grace and eerie beauty. There couldn't be a better closing to the EP than the pedal steel-laden Let You Go. This is Alban's primal abode. Let You Go is a moving, sensitive reflection on loss and moving forward, soaked in both a mournful weariness and a comforting sense of self-discovery.


On the strength of this EP, Alban's forthcoming debut solo album could prove to be his best work to date.


Best Track: Let You Go

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In A Word: Moving