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Seasoned storyteller and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Coleman is a creative tour de force who spins epic tales about the intricacies and intimacies of Australian life. Through his many ephemeral live and studio manifestations as a solo artist, in duo form, or with his transient state-by-state band lineups, Coleman’s illustrious storytelling candour has remained the unshakeable centrepiece of his work for the past decade. The songwriting journeyman’s latest incarnation sees Coleman backed by an eight-piece all-Tassie supergroup of musicians including Glenn Richards (Augie March), the late great Mike Noga (The Drones) and more. The group are thrilled to finally welcome their debut album, and Coleman’s third long play, The Great Tasmanian Escape out now via Oscar Treehouse Records and Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).

To celebrate the release Christopher Coleman & The Great Escape will be launching the record with a hometown nipaluna show Sunday 27 March.

Set against the backdrop of rural Tasmanian life, The Great Tasmanian Escape is a semi-autobiographical affair, narrating a decade in the life of the record’s protagonist, Jesse after he returns from serving in the Middle East. Equal parts fact and fiction, debut single ‘Jesse’ first introduced listeners to this central character, following his journey as he struggles to integrate back into his hometown of Sydney and decides to escape the mainland and embark upon an epic adventure across Tasmania—arriving with nothing, and leaving with nothing.

It wasn’t until October 2021, nearly a year and a half after the success of ‘Jesse’, that follow-up single ‘Paloona’ was unearthed. Chronicling the long-awaited second chapter from The Great Tasmanian Escape’s sprawling collection, the single presents both a tangible and metaphysical escape from Jesse’s present reality. The track was named after an isolated rural Tasmanian powerstation, one of the many places Coleman pinpointed as a site-specific influence for the album’s domestic observations of suburban discomfort and idyllic bush living.

“The idea for the album has grown slowly but with a strength that my previous work hasn’t had before” Coleman says. “I marked 30-odd places on a map where I wanted to spend time. I haven’t got to them all, but I tried writing something for each of these towns.”

Third and final offering ‘Amelia’ preludes ‘Paloona’ within The Great Tasmanian Escape track listing, serving as a humble and devastatingly beautiful confessional. The track opens with a glorious arrangement of horns courtesy of Glenn Richards, performed by Ken Gardener and Louisa Hogue (trumpets), Adam Hutterer and Frances White (trombones), and Matthew Habben and Georgie Smith (saxophones and clarinet). The vivid orchestral opulence soon makes way for a spacious atmosphere of subdued strings and guitar, allowing Coleman’s brooding oaky tones to tell the timeless story of a love just out of reach.

The Great Tasmanian Escape was tracked at Sing Sing Studios Melbourne in August 2018 with Glenn Richards, Mike Noga, Stu Hollingsworth (EWAH) and Kelly Ottaway (The Stitch). Not long after, Coleman expanded the lineup, inviting Frances White, Georgie Smith and Louisa Hogue to make up the eight-piece live act which he says “grew into a Springsteen-esque Australiana rock thing nodding at The Go-Betweens, Midnight Oil and Paul Kelly”.

Coleman’s distinct enthralling poetics touch on deeply personal accounts of living with Bipolar disorder, to classic self-deprecating Aussie larrikinism, all fuelled by an ineffable love of country and penchant for raw, homegrown Tasmanian narratives. After a two and a half year incubation period, and made possible through the patronage of Mona’s Kirsha Kaechele and David Walsh, the highly-anticipated record is finally here. Sink your teeth into it.

Mona and Oscar Treehouse Records present
Christopher Coleman & The Great Escape
Sunday 27 March
Cathedral In The Hanging Garden
nipaluna/Hobart 6pm
Special guest: Claire Anne Taylor

Tickets via Oztix

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