While Melbourne band Amarillo is billed as a four-piece, at its core are songwriters Jac Tonks and Nick O’Mara, who mostly split songwriting duties on their new album, Eyes Still Fixed, with only one shared song, opening track and single ‘All I Can See’. And each of the songs sounds like a glorious pas de deux between Tonks’s vocals and O’Mara’s guitars, each bringing out the best in the other as they dance.
Some of the songs on Eyes Still Fixed were written in the Northern Territory and the top end of Western Australia; some were written in Europe. Distance is a theme and a characteristic of all the songs: in the lyrics, distance from home and other people; in the music, each element is given space so that it can be properly heard and appreciated.
Amarillo’s style draws from Americana, with the occasional echo of laid-back Australian rock. This is not an album that’s made to play in the background of a pub, though – it demands to be listened to, and it makes for very lovely listening. The songs evoke a range of emotions; the overall impression left by Eyes Still Fixed is bittersweetness, a fairly exquisite tension. I also had the sense of familiarity, in a good way, particularly with Tonks’s voice – but after trying and failing to work out where I’d heard her before, I realised I hadn’t: it was the songs themselves invoking some kind of nostalgia, perhaps for the Australian outback, perhaps for lazy summer days. If art is meant to stir emotions and memories – to make us feel and think – Eyes Still Fixed is a piece of art, and deserving of that label.
Eyes Still Fixed is out now.