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Review: Dustin Tebbutt, “Give Me Tonight”

It hasn’t even been a year since Dustin Tebbutt released his debut album First Light, but that hasn’t stopped his creative drive. The past twelve months have seen the artist release his album, collaborate with world-class artists and complete his own headline run of shows in both capital cities and rural centres of Australia.

The singer is currently taking his incredible live show on the road in support of the great Bernard Fanning, and somewhere along the way he has found time to produce another EP, Give Me Tonight, surprise released just last week.

Taking its name from the First Light single, which was co-written by Gang Of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe, the EP features the original album version of the song, as well as three remixes – two of the album’s titular track and a third of Give Me Tonight, each offering the listener a fresh, unique way to interpret his tunes.

The first First Light remix comes courtesy of electronic duo Odelo, turning the gentle ballad into a moody, late-night wind-down jam. It contains all the elements of an atmospheric slow burner, with the impact of the pulsating beat somewhat muffled by the murky synths that float over the top. Upside Down Face delivers the glitchy new take on Give Me Tonight. Similarly, it repurposes the original vocals as a basic foundation from which to build an almost entirely new track. Rather than expanding upon the upbeat proclamations of the original, Upside Down Face adds dense layers of percussion and bass heavy effects to create a powerful, throbbing dance track that utilises dynamics rather than “drops” for effect.

Festival favourite Feki rounds out the EP with his own take on First Light, transforming the song into a feel-good summer party anthem. “Feki has done an awesome job of turning winter into summer on this one” commented Dustin. We couldn’t agree more, with the chilled beats and synths carrying Tebbutt’s floaty vocals over the hypothetical festival fields, no doubt ready to get summer crowds moving at any one of Feki’s summer festival appearances.

The most interesting thing about this EP is the simple fact that these bright electronic infusions really, really suit Tebbutt’s sound and atmosphere. The dense, mysterious realms of the dead of night complement his voice even more than the folky nuances which characterise his original work, and harks back to his short-lived, but lauded collaboration with The Kite String Tangle. This begs the question; what will Dustin do in light of this new experimentation with sound?

The very project of folk remixes is a unique endeavour in itself, with the seeds of the original songs easily adapted to the spacey surroundings of dance music, considering they’re largely without huge electronic soundscapes of their own to begin with. And that’s the other thing – whilst these songs are certainly not “bangers” as the kids say, they carry enough pulse any rhythm to get the feet tapping at the very least.

This EP has breathed new light into songs that fans of more vibrantly electronic tunes may have otherwise overlooked, or relegated to background music. The Give Me Tonight EP is a really successful experiment with Tebbutt’s sounds and melodies produced by the singer, and one can only hope he takes note of what has been achieved with his music here and transfers that onto future projects.

Catch Dustin Tebbutt on tour with Bernard Fanning:

Tue 18 Oct – Gold Coast Arts Centre, QLD
Fri 21 Oct – Civic Theatre, Newcastle
Sat 22 Oct – State Theatre, Sydney
Sun 23 Oct – State Theatre, Sydney
Wed 26 Oct – Norwood Concert Hall, Adelaide
Fri 28 Oct – Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton
Sat 29 Oct – Fremantle Arts Centre, WA
Mon 31 Oct -The Palais, Melbourne
Thu 03 Nov – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
Fri 04 Nov -Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
Sat 05 Nov – Darwin Entertainment Centre, NT
Thu 10 Nov – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Fri 11 Nov – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Sat 12 Nov – The Northern, Byron Bay

Image: Supplied