Love Is a Dog is the fifth studio album for Melbourne trio Tinpan Orange. Siblings Emily and Jesse Lubitz are back again with violin virtuoso Alex Burkoy creating an album that is hauntingly beautiful and romantic.
Opening track “Rich Man” could easily be the theme song for any David Lynch movie. It’s an excruciating tale of being stuck in a loveless marriage and never truly feeling like you know the person you chose to spend your life with. Combining sweeping strings with the throbbing tremolo of Jesse’s guitar, the band tops off the arrangement with Emily’s gentle falsetto creating a deep feeling of melancholy. You can’t help but feel for the protagonist of the song.
A great little clip has also been released for this track. Directed by Jam Nawaz it’s a visual portrayal of the stages of vulnerability of a married woman. Emily sings down the camera lens as she is slowly adorned with clothing and accessories by mystery hands. They are not rough or forceful but they give her no choice in what she wears or consumes, until the end where the realization comes that she no longer needs to bare the stigma of someone else and rips off her pearl necklace, and smears her lipstick and frees herself, only to be left bare and smiling, for the first time in the whole video.
The clear standout on the album is “Diary.” It’s a lush arrangement of strings and vocals quite reminiscent of an Irish folksong. Emily’s raspy voice regretfully sings about having lost a friend due to circumstances unknown and the weight she carries as she fights with her head and heart about not being able to see the warning signs. “Why do the weak ones seem so strong?” She asks herself. Daniel Farrugia (Angus and Julia Stone, Missy Higgins) helped out on the album with drums and his contribution is one of the key elements to the track. It’s a simple beat that is played throughout, but as the band hits the chorus it intensifies as Emily quite bitterly scolds herself “your diary, your diary, I should have read your diary”.
“Hear from Me” brings the listener back up, painting I picture a female heroine riding on the back of her horse through the desert of a spaghetti western, as weeds tumble on by. She is the sheriff of these parts taking on the role of mother, lover and daughter, and she is still able to take on the world: “Wait for me under heavy stones, don’t do nothing ‘til you hear from me”.
“Light Across the Water” is about holding out for hope. Feeling like there is no silver lining. The harmony of Emily and Jesse’s vocals is that hand to pull you up and dust you off while Alex’s violin whirls around you and hold you in its arms.
Love Is a Dog is eleven tracks filled with secrets, lies and love. There’s no denying that the key elements to the whole album are the harmony between the musicians. Each member’s certain style brings something to the table and its what makes this band so boundless. It’s a great album to put on be transported to another realm.
Love Is a Dog is out on Friday April 8. If you happen to be in Melbourne on Friday, the release will be celebrated with an in-store performance and signing by the band at Melbourne’s renowned Polyester Records, alongside 100 limited edition vinyl copies of the album that will be available for sale at the event. You can also catch Tinpan Orange playing at The Vanguard in Newtown on Friday May 20.