Born to Sri Lankan parents who immigrated to Australia in the 1970s Des Anthonisz is a Melbourne-born singer-songwriter who also plays drums, guitar and piano. Inspired by his musician father, Des fronted different musical projects across many different styles around the vibrant Melbourne live music scene. However 2014 provided a big wake-up call for Des when he was delivered a serious dose of reality, being told he could be suffering from cancer. A golf-ball sized tumor in his throat had to be removed, with the risk of permanent and irreparable damage being done to Des’ voice.
Struggling to come to terms with how he might cope should things not go to plan during surgery, in the 2 weeks leading up to going under the knife, Des made sure that he recorded every musical idea that he had been working on to that point – so that just in case the unthinkable did happen – he would have one final record of his artistic expression. The songs on his debut EP ‘High’ were part of those recording sessions.
On “High”, Des Anthonisz stands far above the norm. His songs are soothing, energetic, and full of emotion; the kind of emotion that abandoned music back in the early to late 60s (though seen sparsely from a handful of artists in recent years). Everything about this record is good. Everything from the melodies to the words, it’s so easy to listen to and the amount of talent is amazing. If you are looking for a euphoric, feel-good escape, then this album is for you.
There is no denying the skill and talent that is put on display both lyrically and musically in this EP. Des Anthonisz is a singer who conveys much emotion in his tone and each inflection carries with it meaning that penetrates the listener. He creates a pretty great debut Ep that not only has commercial, pop sensibilities but also weaves in alt-folk and rock elements with beautiful, piercing vocals bathed in bittersweet falsettos.
Des Anthonisz has the type of voice that is soft yet powerful at the same time. His vocals have great dynamics too. It can be gentle and quiet one minute, then soaring and resonant at another. The stories told through his music have a nostalgic quality that is often hauntingly beautiful and can best be savored in tracks like, “Fragile Girl” and “Last Goodbye”. The traces of Jeff Buckley falsetto stylings are most evident here and in fact Des signals Buckley as a strong influence on his music.
The big jangly melodies of the standout tracks, “High” and “Alone and Broken”, recall the best of Tom Petty, but in reality references a ton of different styles and eras, yet is contemporary and original. Earthy and warm, the songs showcase plenty of piano and acoustic guitar tones which blend beautifully with Des’ melodic vocals.
Extremely listenable, the flow of songs on ‘High’ is wonderful, and it’s hard not to listen to the entire Ep all the way through. Every time you put it in – and with each listen – Des Anthonisz’ voice and musical artistry will grow on you!