It’s important to make the distinction between a post-album release of off-cuts and an EP that is an offering in itself. I say this because Ezra Furman’s latest project, ‘Big Fugitive Life’, released almost a year after his sublime record ‘Perpetual Motion People’, is the closest thing to a microcosm of the artist’s psyche that we’re ever going to get. The thematic context of these six tracks, while referencing the aforementioned album, exist as an emotional phrenology and is purposefully structured as so.
An EP split into two, ‘Big Fugitive Life’ was written with a duality in mind. One half acting as a catalyst for a fuck-and-run, raconteur lifestyle and the other a vulnerable and reflective breathing period. A few listens, however, will peel back a casing and find that every track has its own M.O and spans the curvature of the emotional kinsey scale.
Starting brash, ‘Teddy I’m Ready’ shoots straight as a solitary chord progression emanating from a five-watt practice amp bursts into a celebratory 50s, good-ole’ rock track with a glistening horn section, delicate backing vocals and the literal swagger of a thousand teddy-boy haircuts bounding in chorus.
‘Halley’s Comet’ veers more into the obtuse and meta as Ezra drops references to his own songs ‘Ordinary Life’ and ‘Haunted Head’ over unshackled guitars clanging. After the jubilee of ‘Teddy’, this track simmers in comparison but does offer some tactile remorse found in Furman’s cracking voice demanding whether: “You care like I care?!”
The EP slips into sixth gear on ‘Little Piece Of Trash’ which, despite being one of the most championing songs in Furman’s discography, is a balls-to-the-wall record for wilding out to. It’s like looking through a grainy photograph of a bohemian fallout in the Chelsea Hotel with smashed lamps, smudged makeup and the geist of overflowing hedonism smeared into the carpet.
On the flip-side of the project, acoustic tracks ‘Penetrate’ and ‘Splash of Light’ are subdued acoustic ballads that deal with the cloak-and-dagger depiction of sex in western society and individualism.
‘The Refugee’ is a wrenching track that re-tells the story of Ezra’s grandfather who fled the Nazi regime. Without vitriol, the song tells the heart-breaking tale of a displaced soul that is motivated by solely desperation. It’s a tale that we’ve heard countless times and, harrowingly so, is still a reality for so many today.
It takes an artist with such pure connection to the root of suffering to empathise enough to write ‘The Refugee’ without pretence. Ezra is one of the few to ever achieve such an emotionally impressive feat.
Words: Will Butler
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