Kim Churchill sounds like a musician who has almost figured it out. The Australian artist’s second studio album Detail of Distance, which was recorded in Vancouver, was released on May 15. Churchill, who is currently signed to Montréal-based label Indica Records, has made a name for himself on the Canadian folk scene (his music video for his first single, “Season’s Grind,” was filmed in Tofino). He will play a show at The Queen’s hotel on Sept. 13.
His career began after he graduated high school in 2009 and became known for winning several awards and competitions while busking around Australia. Though now officially on the stage and off the street corners, the busker inside of Churchill has not disappeared. When listening to the 11 tracks on Detail of Distance, now and then the street-performer emerges. Certain songs conjure up images of calloused hands carefully picking guitar strings, and even in the more rock-heavy tunes there is a raspy quality in Churchill’s voice that makes it evident he didn’t get his start on Youtube. The rough-around-the-edges dimension to his singing paired with his intricate guitar work gives Churchill a sort of unique Markus-Mumford-meets-Angus-Stone sound that works well for him on certain songs such as “Bathed in Black,” “Embers,” and “Season’s Grind.” At other times the components do not all line up at once, and it takes a few listens for the song to make an impression. For example, in “The Crazy” and “It Will Be Morning Soon,” the gentle melodies and the folk-tempo are sometimes too separate. Though Churchill can handle both slow and fast-paced parts with originality, the build-up in the beginning of the songs often drags. When he blends the two sides of his skill set together there is a spark of promise, and Detail of Distance in its entirety is a collection of great potential sprinkled with sparks.
There is no doubt that Churchill has the talent to continue climbing and developing his style, and if he keeps riding his current success, one day we will look back on his sophomore album as a rung that helped move him from the sidewalk to the stadiums.