Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Gold” by Chet Faker from the 2014 album Built on Glass on Downtown Records.
Behind the grizzly beard and stoic eyes of Chet Faker is an emotive voice and an engaging songwriter who crafts his smooth, low-key electronic/R&B hybrid one mellifluous vocal line at a time. Opting to use the moniker Chet Faker instead of his real name (Nicholas James Murphy) due to its similarity to other musicians’, Faker first gained traction in 2011 with his looping, icy cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. That track set a sonic template for his next release, the quietly moving Thinking in Textures. While he was recording his debut full-length, “Left Alone”, Faker’s collaborative track with fellow Aussie Flume, picked up steam in their native country, leading the two to release Lockjaw, a collaborative EP. Faker returned to his own work soon after, and last month, the album, entitled Talk is Cheap, debuted at the top spot of the Australian album charts. The album picks up where Thinking In Textures left off, continuing to pair chilling downtempo beats with Faker’s versatile voice. Opening with buzzing electronic piano chords and handclaps, “Gold” recalls Jamie Lidell’s mid-’00s work in its army-of-one arrangements. When the drum machine finally comes in, Faker alternates between his lower register in the voices and his higher range in the chorus, cleverly framing his voice as a foil for itself. Although it never explodes with the full force that a voice like Faker’s certainly possesses, “Gold” is stirring nonetheless due to Faker’s ability to create subtle tension between his voice and his arrangements. As “Gold” and Talk is Cheap prove, sometimes the most affecting music is also the most understated.
Chet Faker will be in the Pacific Northwest at the end of the month for gigs in Portland (May 22), Vancouver (May 23), and a slot at the Sasquatch Music Festival. Keep up with Chet on his website and Facebook, and below, watch the video for Talk Is Cheap‘s title track.