Lachlan Grant Splendor is an acoustic singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from New Zealand. His songwriting has been compared with that of Neil Young, whilst his distinctive vocals have drawn comparisons with England’s Billy Bragg. He cites influences such as Dave Matthews, Ben Howard, Lumineers, Hollow Coves and the aforementioned Young.
To that, I would add the slight influence, or at least similarity to, fellow Kiwi Neil Finn (Crowded House) and aspects of Elliott Smith. There is also a spiritual aspect to his music and he describes his concept album The Choice Is Yours as being inspired by higher conscious awakening.
This song, Father’s Second Son, is a beautifully crafted and performed acoustic ballad in the complex time signature of 12/8. It begins with haunting Elliott Smith-style picked acoustic guitar which sets the stage for Lachlan’s unique, quirky voice which does indeed bring to mind Billy Bragg, but only a little. The lyrics grab you from the start, depicting the complicated relationship with his older brother and their father: “When I was sixteen my brother was twenty… when I was sixteen, life felt so empty…….I looked up to him, he was my role model…..”.
The subtly anthemic and memorable chorus encapsulates the song’s emotional honesty and self-reflection: “What if I become my father’s second son?“. The second verse is equally poignant with lines like, “Used to always think that I would turn out the same… drink the same beer, burn with the same hot flame, score with the gorgeous girls….but none of that ever came true.….”. The understated and restrained delivery adds to the affecting nature of the song. Special credit should go to the intricate drumming, full of nuance and deft touches.
Overall, this is a great example of how the honest, confessional songwriting style can be one of the most powerful in music. Lachlan wears his heart on his sleeve but with the slightest hint of self-pity, delivering a genuinely moving song that can stand alongside that of his musical heroes. His musicianship (guitar and bass) along with his vocals are first rate and although you would place it in the alternative category, the universality of his songwriting means there’s no limits to the potential of his popularity.
VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10