Virtually every young singer/songwriter alive will tell you they’re at least somewhat inspired by Wisconsin’s prolific indie soloist Justin Vernon and Bon Iver. Even if you hail from a virtually antithetical land half way across the world like Australian singer/songwriter Dustin Tebbutt, you’re still likely to find remnants of Vernon’s influence. Tebbutt’s debut 2013 single “The Breach” bares obvious resemblance to his admitted motivation by describing Vernon’s common motif that the struggle of giving everything is most disheartening when you’re left with nothing in return. Just like Vernon, Tebbutt is adept in harmonizing temperate vocals with tender, sobering instrumentals to subconsciously impose attentive uneasiness on the listener. His simple looping riffs take the weight off the listener’s shoulders through a state of dreamlike tranquility, yet the inescapably somber tone brings that weight right back with it through a looming impression of doubt and danger. His faint falsetto is light and generally difficult to distinguish, both symbolizing Tebbutt’s soft and selfless empathy and the lingering pain that resulted from his failures. Through all the poetic chaos, Tebbutt makes his mental strife with a broken relationship fairly self-evident.
The Breach took Australia by storm in the Fall of 2013, eventually landing Tebbutt a spot on Triple J’s Hottest 100 in during that same year. Since then, Tebbutt has had trouble replicating the same domestic fame, as he told the Australian publication Atwood Magazine in 2015 that “I didn’t have that much of a plan when I put ‘The Breach’ out… I kind of feel like I’ve been playing catch-up since then.” Part of his need to salvage fame may be attributed to the fact that Tebbutt took an additional three years to release his first full-length album in 2016, at which point most of the Australian public had moved on to the latest slew of hit singles flooding the charts in the land down under. Like Bon Iver, it’s possible that what Tebbutt really needs following his debut is a stark pivot in his approach to songwriting by keeping his mantra consistent but ironically drawing inspiration from a new, more forward-looking teacher.