The ultra-acoustic Tram, consisting of Paul Anderson and Nick Avery, have much to offer fans of Smog and even Mojave 3, although they don’t really reach the magical heights of either of these bands. Where Smog are deep into melancholia, they manage to mesmerise with it and Mojave 3 have many light moments with which to get sing-a-longs up and running. ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ is neither mesmeric nor sing-a-long, but is an almost elegiac album from a band who were perfectly suited to their recent appearance at The 12 Bar in London, one of the UK capital’s smallest and most intimite venues.
The album has more to offer than the live set, filled out with melancholic drum tapping and percussion and string arrangements backing up the intricate guitars and ponderous bass. Paul Anderson’s vocals are whispers rather than attempts at singing and his keyboards are added so sparingly that they scarcely exist.
Some stand-out tracks have all the hallmarks of folky greatness about them but are a long way from radio playlist territory; ‘He Walks Alone’ provides the listener with a particularly delicious selection of chords and the arpeggiated instrumental track ‘Folk’ is a cure for insomnia, guaranteed to send the listener to sleep with pleasant dreams if it hadn’t been for the totally barking mad flute appearing towards the end in a fit of production genius. Tram’s cover of Tim Buckley’s ‘Once I Was’, already to be found on ‘Sing a Song for You – A Tribute To Tim Buckley’ which also featured Mojave 3, Cousteau and Geneva, is a sturdy tribute.
Ultimately, an album of moments, some serene and most touching; a fine addition to any country or folk CD collection.