A little over a decade since W&H covered Tuttle’s debut EP, he’s back with his third release; older, for sure, and perhaps wiser, at least musically.
Clayton Elliott – aka Tuttle – has already seen his latest EP compared to the likes of Mark Lanegan Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. It’s not hard to hear why, the moody country blues stylings loitering in the shadows make for moments of dark and understated intensity.
A simple kick drum provides the pace for the first track, ‘The River’, which finds Clayton drowning in the sea of life and crying for help as he fights against the flow of the river. I’m assuming the song is a metaphor, of course.
The cover of Gillian Welch’s ‘One Monkey’ is sparse and dark, fractured guitar licks punctuating the minimalist arrangement. The electronic side of Tuttle’s sound shines through on the laid-back noodling of ‘Hall of Buttons’, while ‘Sad Little Man’ is a proper stripped back blues beast with a Nick Cave strut and a drum machine that threatens to break out of its programming at any moment.
The final track, ‘40 Years’, is perhaps the strongest of the set. At almost seven minutes in length, its a sprawling piece of bleak country that finds Tuttle meditating on the ageing process over a desolate guitar and slow, deliberate bass throb. ‘40 years of learning / And I don't know a thing /
Filled with knowledge / But I'm atrophied within’ he wheezes confessionally.
While I wouldn’t want to speculate on how autobiographical Elliott’s lyrics are, there’s both a sincerity and universality to his sentiments that imbue this downbeat release with a real humanity.