When discussing Tim Rogers, the talk usually doesn’t go for long without acknowledging just what a rock star the guy is. It’s not without merit in the absolute slightest – anyone who has seen the man dripping with sweat, his shirt either half buttoned down to reveal his chest tattoo (or disrobed entirely) and his guitar cranked up to 11 will testify to him doing it better than pretty much anyone. Most bands aren’t fit to lace the dude’s blue suede shoes if we’re being completely real on the subject. Even so, it would be reductive to only consider Rogers in this spotlight and this spotlight only.
When you look at the wider scope of Rogers’ career, one can actually note the You Am I frontman as one of the more multifaceted and ambitious creative types in his field. From his acting work and his dabbling with the theatre to his ambitious collaborations with everyone from Kasey Chambers to The Bamboos – the latter of which scored him a late-game hit with 2014’s ‘I Got Burned’ – Rogers is on constant lookout for his next creative endeavour; each purposefully different to its predecessor.
Here, Rogers is back to his troubadour persona for solo LP number six. It’s an album that lends itself to conceptuality, to a flourish of theatricality in its arrangements and its fair share of soliloquy – as its title, An Actor Repairs, so tellingly alludes to. Although it’s said to be originally conceived as a companion piece for a work of theatre that Rogers was intermittently working on, it doesn’t take a great deal of stretching to envision Rogers’ artistic license drawing direct parallels between himself and his protagonist. Let’s face it – you can’t deliver a line as quietly heartbreaking as “You can take or leave it/It’s best you leave,” as heard in the refrain of the stripped-back, folky ‘A Mother Daughter Thing,’ without it holding at least a slight degree of resonance.
One can easily assert the same thing about ‘One More Late Night Phone Conversation’, a touching duet with Melbourne singer-songwriter Clio Renner, in which the two lament about a dismantled relationship that’s beyond repair despite the best efforts from either side. As Rogers and Renner tessellate their vocals in stunning harmony, begging the other end to “please pick on up” one is struck with an immediately familiar sense of desperation and dread.
It’s reared its head in You Am I’s more stripped-back moments – ‘Please Don’t Ask Me to Smile’, ‘Heavy Heart’ et al – and it’s reflective of Rogers’ everyman relatability; even in the moments where we’re not entirely proud of ourselves.
Edging close to an hour, An Actor Repairs could certainly have used with a tidy-up job – throwaway jangle-pop like ‘The Possibilities’ and the passable but meandering ‘Youth’ spring to mind. Still, when the album reaches its more tender and intimate moments, it’s a timely reminder of Rogers’ expertise in this field that has lasted him for nearly 30 years and counting. He still doesn’t know what rhymes with cars and girls – not even the self-referential closing number reaches a definitive conclusion – but as long as Rogers’ heart is still heavy and his mind is still wandering, you’ll still pull in your barstool close to hear every last confession.