[ HOME ]
Review by Mia O'Brien
Some singer-songwriters catch your attention with an infectious sound, others tell a good story, and there are those whose voice could leave you swooning as they sing the phone book. Caroline Hammond has all of these qualities and then some. For my money, Caroline’s writing offers some of the most lyrical, lucid and entirely breathtaking moments in song this side of Patty Griffin – and if you think that’s a long bow to draw, have a close listen to Between the Shoreline and the Moon.
As Caroline’s second album The Shoreline offers listeners an array of beautifully crafted songs. And that’s the rub. As track after track opens with gorgeously catchy riffs on guitar or uke and proceeds to lure you in with that afro-cuban-blues rhythmic fusion thang that has become distinctive to Caroline’s music; you could be lulled into believing it’s yet another toe-tapping, wholly danceable CD. And in many ways it certainly is! Musical luminaries like Craig Claxton, Wilf Noff and Bridget O’Donoghue add magic to various tracks, and Caroline’s long-time percussionist Suzanne Hibbs keeps that gorgeous groove going. Not to mention the stunning cameo appearance of Mick Hadley on harmonica for track 6, Train Coming.
But if you were to simply kick back with a cold beer and spend the afternoon swaying to the entirely soulful collection of tunes on this CD - you might miss the real brilliance of Caroline Hammond’s music. Her evocative, luminous lyrics. Consider the opening lines of the opening track:
In a pale morning kitchen she sits,
caresses a cup and runs a tongue along its lip;
smiles thinking how the little ones have grown,
she is lost in the music of the bakelite radio…
In every song a line or phrase paints lucid pictures that resonate. The listener is taken away, drawn out of the lounge room into a 1950’s kitchen, feels the cool lushness of the rainforest, and floats idle and skyward on a glassy sea at twilight. Caroline’s song-writing ability is that of the true artist: she makes the ordinary extraordinary. Tiny snippets of life are cast into glorious wide-screen technicolour – each song a mini-series of 3.35 musical minutes in length. Really good original music is hard to come by these days. As Caroline’s second album, Between the Shoreline and the Moon consolidates her growing reputation as an insightful, intuitive and always life affirming singer-songwriter with heart, talent and an eye for those little moments in life that mean so much.
This is my favourite album for 2013.
Review by Maree Robertson
I first heard this band at the National Folk Festival in March 2013, and it was by far the most entrancing music I heard all festival. If you have any affinity for Middle Eastern music of any type, you will love this extraordinary transcultural collaboration, & if such music is new to you, this may be your ideal first introduction.
The story behind the music was enough to lure me: the symbolism of the bridge, linking people and places and disparate segments of music, has never been more evocative, as the three members of this project are Ümit Ceyhan, a Turkish Muslim living as a refugee in France, Andy Busuttil, an Australian Christian of Maltese heritage, and Ittai Shaked, an Israeli Jew.
They met online, through their mutual work for an audio software developer, and created and recorded all of this music together, without ever meeting in person. Their first face-to-face meeting was as part of the 2013 National Folk Festival in Canberra. That their debut album holds together as a cohesive, richly evocative whole is testament to the strength of their harmonious collaboration.
I can’t begin to do justice to the instrumentation involved, both Ümit & Andy are multi-instrumentalists and singers, & Ittai is a violinist of international acclaim. The featured instruments include Clarinet, Darabuka, Saz, Duduk, Violin and Vocals, & many more.
All three are composers, and their original works comprise almost all the material on this album. The highest praise I can give to this album may not mean much to some folkies: this CD reminds me of the work of Nitin Sahwney. The cultural content is different, but the melding of old & new, mellow & funky, is delightful. This project is a world-class manifestation of a global vision, to bring people together through music.
More at: www.thebridgeprojecttrio.com
Review by Ewan MacKenzie
For those who aren't familiar with the name, Innes is a Scot in our midst who I believe to be one of the foremost acoustic guitarists in Australia. He has been National Bluegrass Flatpicking Champion, but his lines contain nuances that reach beyond the confines of that genre. His skill as a mandolinist and slide dobro player are also on ample display here.
Innes is keeping his own company these days. He plays every instrument on this CD, as well as investing considerable time and effort into building an electronic soundscape for most of the songs. It's an interesting and sometimes challenging experiment, and I personally feel that this is the first step in a journey that will reap rewards for the traveler who goes the distance. Words like fascinating, compelling and diverse spring to mind.
The tracks move from straight bluegrass with some sampled backing through moving and quite beautiful melodic and intimate songs to some electronica pieces that would not be out of place in a dance club. I'm not an expert on what is done in a studio with computers these days so I won't attempt to explain what's going on here, but the effect is at times mesmerising.
The lyrics cover a wide range of topics and are not immediately accessible, but once digested they keep ticking over in your mind. When I woke up with the lyrics to Cruel Freak (a song about Julian Assange) in my head, I knew I was ready to write this review.
Cruel Freak is a well constructed song with, for me, controversial words juxtaposed against some unsettling electronic vocal effects and lush backing. Oh Jimmy contains some fine playing in the bluegrass style, while the lyrics are again disquieting. The doleful atmosphere of Two's Company - "Two's Company, so come on over the hill with me" - about two baby boomers fading into the sunset together - is eased by the intimacy and sentiment of Only This, perhaps the only song of a personal nature on the album, featuring a fine vocal arrangement.
Oh, and the short Lost and Found is a fine instrumental piece.
those who know Innes as the bluegrass virtuoso that he is, be aware
that while that's found all over this album, Innes's muse has led him
into fresh and innovative directions. I'm keen to hear the next
instalment, but meanwhile I'm singing this in the shower.
More at: www.innescampbell.com
Review by Julie Minto
Lauren Lucille is a Brisbane based singer/ composer who oozes a musical talent which just cannot be hidden. This CD sounds exquisite and the recording quality is clear as crystal, which makes it a soothing treat to the ears. The tracks are diverse and feature some of Brisbane's finest jazz musicians and on other pieces, a luscious string quartet. Each time I listen I marvel at the beauty of the arrangements. Lauren wrote both the musical scores and heartfelt lyrics and also skillfully uses her voice as a true instrument in many songs with some very sublime scatting, in particular track 6 Tuk Tuk and track 7 Finality.
James Morrison, the great trumpet player, added a track from this album to his best of jazz list for QANTAS international and national in-flight entertainment. I totally agree with James Morrison's choice, this is world class music that should be heard.
Although Hidden Here is listed on her website as a jazz album, it is so much more than that. This is music that blurs boundaries and has elements of folk, pop and classical as well. The final track So's my love for you is one of my faves and is a great example of catchy whimsical folk/ pop.
Although mostly known as a jazz singer, Lauren is equally at home playing guitar and performing as a singer songwriter in stripped back acoustic mode like on her Lauren Lucille Live at The Round CD which is also available.
Her biography compares her to Katie Noonan, Norah Jones, Missy Higgins and Ani Di Franco. Yes, I can hear those influences and maybe just a touch of Kate Miller Heidke. But as well as all that Lauren has a unique sound and a song writing style that is totally her own.
Buy this CD you will love it! In fact buy both her CDs like did, I couldn't help myself
For CD sales, upcoming gigs and further info go to www.laurenlucillemusic.com
Review by Karen-Wilhelmina Anderson
A New Way Of Talking, Peter Harvey's 2nd album delivers a lot of surprises for the listener. The more you hear it, the deeper you get pulled in by the vivid and thought provoking lyrics, observations on human behaviour, and dramatic changes of musical genre.
This interesting CD ranges from numbers with a definite country feel, through to the futuristic staccato song of internet download on the first track and the spacey, pink noise, meditative track 9 which features the soaring ethereal vocals of a previously unknown soprano, referred to in the titles simply as Caitlin. Mix this up with a little Island Blues and its visions of cresting waves and swaying palms, and the ominously gorgeous, poltergistic Trick Of The Light with its strong spiritual message, and there's something here for everyone.
Just Counting Clouds would have to be my favourite, (although it's very hard to pick just one song) - so descriptive and poignant. You can almost feel the displacement of the air as the swallows dip and dive between the notes of this beautiful ballad. A bittersweet story that blows a fresh wind through your very soul and makes you appreciate that you're alive today, and a gentle reminder of the courage of our soldiers, who have given their lives that we may live in freedom - the transition of a soul from the innocence of boyhood to the responsibilities of manhood and the eventual rejoining with spirit.
There are multiple deep layers to the songs and music on this album. Peter has a potent gift for song craft and is an accomplished musician of many instruments. Every time you sit down to listen, your mind takes off into another dimension; pondering the true meaning of life and all those tricks of the light. Available from iTunes and Amazon
More at: www.facebook.com
Review by Robyn Clare (4zzz, Folk Buddies)
I admit that I approached the latest album from Jevan Cole and Jan Van Dijk with trepidation. I had previously skipped over the tracks too quickly on my laptop and somewhat dismissively labelled it as simply another instrumental album of sometimes repetitive trad folk tunes. How wrong I was!!!
It was not until I sat down and took time out to listen properly to Sins Of A Li'l Later Kiss, with my classical ears on, that I realised I was in the presence of musical greatness. I do not say this lightly. This is warm, intelligent, noble folk music, to be savoured with respect.
There can be no doubt about Cole and Van Dijk's instrumental talent individually and as a duo. On their album Jevan Cole's fingerstyle guitar and five string banjo blends beautifully with Jan Van Dijk's fiddle and tenor banjo. The album's instrumentation is variously supplemented by piano, Wurlitzer and Hammond organ, percussion, cello, and accordion, to add layers of sound and melody to the mix. Its tunes are mostly all Jan or Jevan originals, with some traditional folk seamlessly woven through their own compositions.
The duo's years of playing music together gives the album a sense of ease and grace, and even the most vigorous dance tunes are imbued with nearly Baroque restraint. European folk tradition is respected but never slavishly mimicked on Sins Of A Li'l Later Kiss, and you can almost breathe in the scent of the Australian bush. There is a lovely mix of tempo between tracks that keeps things interesting and provides good contrast. Who'd have thought triplets could sound so sexy?!
The ponderous longing and regret of You've Got Me All At Sea contrasts nicely with the cheeky bustling of Bogan's March, while Three Days' Notice has a quiet contemporary urgency about it. The medley beginning with Good Morning to My Nightcap stands out for sheer virtuosity, and the final live track is a gorgeously languid OFFERING that could grace the soundtrack to Carnivale.
Like listening to a Bach fugue and wondering at times where the great man will take you, then feeling that sublime ah-hah moment when you finally get it, so it is with experiencing the music of Cole and Van Dijk on Sins Of A Li'l Kiss. You just need to put your trust in them to lead you down meandering but deeply understood musical paths that, by the end, will leave you gently astounded. Released through Treeskin Music, distribution through Vitamin Records
More at: Facebook: coleandvandijk
Review by Zoli Mauritz
Procession - another fine Celtic album coming out of the Brisbane music scene!
Procession is a result of Sebastian Flynn (on fiddle) and Martin Reese (on mandolin) collaborating together for more than 10 years in Brisbane Celtic groups Malarky and Ghost. www.myspace.com/theghost4real
The album’s first track, composed by Sebastian, is a hauntingly beautiful melody, made more touching by his fine fiddle playing. Elegant bow work, intelligent touch, sensitive dynamics and measured slurs characterise his unique style.
Shepherd of Silver (by David Shrubsall) is an awesome melody. Martin is precise on mandolin and he never hurries. Sebastian’s smooth bow is never overdone.
There are a few great reels with Martin’s accurate mandolin playing. One can hear how well these two music chums know each other’s rhythms; technically well executed and relaxed.
Both musicians have been exposed to diverse cultures and can’t help themselves but soak the album with a few European folk traditions.
Air Above Britain - the last track gives an atmospheric feeling of nostalgia and memories, asking for more… I love this album and I’m sure we didn’t hear the last from these superb and accomplished artists.
We can all look forward to Sebastian’s home coming soon. Brisbane needs even more fine fiddlers - though we already have some of the finest in the country…
For your copy at $20 contact Sebastian
Review by John Holmberg
Many of you have heard live The Company here in Brisbane or elsewhere in Australia. What a delight to have four such talented musicians creating original acoustic music in our neck of the woods. Call it newgrass or new acoustic music, whatever the moniker, it is brilliantly-evolved ensemble playing that richly deserves close listening. This brings me to their new CD The Company. It is a CD you will keep handy in the car and enjoy listening to repeatedly, hearing new delights on each trip through the tracks, all of which are originals.
The loose and varied genre that their music reflects evolved over time in the States through a cross-pollination of regional and period-specific styles. The thread might have started with fiddle-banjo accompaniment for dances, then evolving into string bands with rhythm instruments, then onto Western Swing and Bluegrass ensemble styles with individual instruments taking breaks. Latter developments include “dawg music” of the David Grisman Quartet in the 1980s: bluegrass musicians playing originals with strong jazz influences. Currently there is a broad fruition effecting and informing many contemporary acoustic bands. To have such a fine local band giving their push and individual imprint to this style is a real treat.
Three of the nine, otherwise-instrumental tracks are songs written and sung by Mick Patrick. His Heavy Hours is a heartbreakingly well sung ballad full of yearning. The accompaniment is just right with lovely guitar, fiddle and viola parts supporting the strong mood of the song.
The six sparkling instrumental tracks lead off with Come On Down: Mick’s old time fiddle tune with George Jackson’s bell-like melodic banjo joining beautifully with Mick’s rosin-heavy, rhythmic old-time fiddle. Jamie Clark’s Thief of the Vine starts with a lovely melodic head and then George (fiddle), Jamie (guitar) and Mick (mandolin) head off on tasty improvisations. George’s The Divide is a corker: a nice easy pace with a melody that takes delightful twists and turns. Again the banjo rings like a bell and a memorable head is followed by some fine, organically-evolving improvisation. Jamie’s The Lime Tree has a light and sprightly verse taking syncopated flights of fancy before digging in with a contrastingly dark, minor key chorus. Markus Karlsen’s upright bass playing throughout gives a solid rhythmic foundation but is additionally harmonically evolved, his jazz chops showing through. All in all, some fine pickin’ and singin’ from the home boys…good on ya lads.
Review by Helena Bond
Fiddle singing is a rare art in Australia -- perhaps because it demands fiendish levels of focus and musicianship -- but the Wish List embrace it and make it their own. Their trademark sound is vocal harmonies with percussive and melodic strings, drawing on Nicole Murray's singing and playing of English, Irish, Australian and original songs with Cloudstreet, and Emma Nixon's Golden Fiddle expertise in Scottish music. Their repertoire consists of fresh interpretations of songs from Nick Cave to traditional Scots Gaelic, including Leonard Cohen's That's No Way to Say Goodbye, which features lush vocal harmonies over rich, bowed lines.
With two singers and a choice of fiddles or violas, you might think they had nothing left to wish for, but the Wish List's name indicates a desire to work with hand-picked collaborators.
I saw them (not for the first or last time) at the National Folk Festival, on the Budawang stage; the sepia seascape behind them making an excellent backdrop for these vibrant women and their sparkling music. I slipped in just in time for one of my favourite songs: an exciting version of Katy Cruel, with unexpected vocal harmonies and contrasting percussive lines on the fiddle. Cello singer and songwriter Rebecca Wright added depth to their strings and a third voice to the ethereal Scottish Chi Mi Na Morbheanna/Smile in Your Sleep (an excellent combination for a non-Gaelic-speaking audience).
There's everything you could wish for in a performance by this duo ... and on their self-titled EP.
To obtain your copy call +61 410 715 787, or
Visit www.thewishlist.net.au for details.
Review by Julie Witney
Anyone who loves raw, high energy, authentic sounding blues with open tuned resonator guitar and earthy vocals will love this CD. I particularly enjoyed Cara Robinson’s warm, strong vocals which are unaffected by callisthenic vocal techniques heard so often in popular music today.
The CD has 12 songs; all but one are originals by Hat Fitz and Cara, and is superbly produced at Jeff Lang’s studio in Melbourne.
About the tracks: On several tracks the driving blues sounds are augmented by Cara’s perky Irish whistle giving the impression of a hybridisation of genres. It works well. Cara also plays drums and washboard percussion.
The opening song, called Power, has a forceful rhythmic feeling and reminds me of southern gospel hollering. The guitar and vocals use a typical blues technique of short vocal phrases with guitar fills. This is also evident in Absent Eyes.
In Eliza Blue, Cara sings a little known story of the 1832 ship with 196 prisoners in Sydney Cove. Rusty River is a beautiful song Cara sings in which she is supported by Hat’s clean clawhammer banjo style.
In Play Me Something New, Hat tells about his love & appreciation of those old pre-war blues. Sine is an interesting hybridisation of a Celtic tune meeting the Deep South.
The album cover is beautifully produced and reminiscent of sepia coloured old-time country photographs.
The album can be purchased from their website www.hatfitzcara.net or from iTunes.
(book and 2 CDs) Reviewed by Mary Brettell
This is a
compilation of 78 songs, rhymes and twisters from Mike and Michelle's
three award-winning kids' albums:
- Bunyips, Bunnies & Brumbies, which won a gold ARIA.
- Playmates, which received an Platinum ARIA
- Ain't It Great to Be Crazy, which won a Gold ARIA
My two-year-old granddaughter was fortunate enough to be a recipient of one of the first issues of this product, and when I put on the first CD, the response was immediate and positive -- she began to dance and clap! She really loves the songs.
Parents and grandparents will love it too, as it brings back memories of long-forgotten nursery rhymes ... with a particularly Australian flavour. And the instrumentation leaves little to be desired, with toe-tapping tunes and music provided not only by Mike and Michelle, but also by very accomplished musicians playing a variety of instruments - entertainment not only for the children, but also for grown-ups.
Of course, the audio CDs are accompanied by the words and music for each track with the addition of guitar and ukulele chord diagrams.
I highly recommend this collection to anyone with children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews... a great gift for any occasion.
To learn more or order the Book and CDs visit mikejackson.com.au/bestever.php
Review by Bob Wilson
This 5-CD collection of music aired on the ABC’s Australia all Over in the past 30 years is a lasting tribute to host Ian McNamara’s loyal support of independent music. It is his collection of personal favourites from among the thousands of original songs played by ‘Macca’ on his Sunday morning radio show.
There are 106 authentic Australian tunes in this rich collection of folk music. Songs by well known artists including Eric Bogle, Ted Egan, Tex Morton, The Waifs, The Pigrams, Gary Shearston, Col Joye, Don Walker, GANGajang and Neil Murray sit alongside beautiful ballads from relative unknowns like Kcrasher (Western Highway) and Caitlin Smith (Where Fairburn Walked). There are a couple of tracks from The Basics (before the lead singer became Gotye), and the classic that got Macca started collecting Australian music, Greg Champion’s I Made a Hundred. Macca’s Top 100 makes room for Queensland folk artists, including Ewan MacKenzie (Henry Lawson), Dermot Dorgan (Call of the Cappuccino and Cockroach Rap), Penny Davies, Roger Ilott and the late Bill Scott (Hey Rain and Where the Cane Fires Burn) and the reviewer’s contributions, Underneath the Story Bridge and Courting the Net.
On his radio show, Macca gets to play the music he likes and this is reflected on the CD. Few collections of Australian music would put Bridal Train by the Waifs alongside a catchy tune recorded years ago by the Vogel twins singing a child’s mantra of the bush “You’ve got to shut the gate, mate.” Trad folkies Dave De Hugard and John Broomhall are on this collection, as are Redgum and Bullamakanka. Enda Kenny makes two appearances: that song about Earl Grey Tea and the wistfully beautiful Easter Island. Host Ian (Macca) McNamara has a few tracks of his own, usually with other singers including Kevin Bennett and Digger Revell.
Those unfamiliar with the Sunday morning ABC radio programme may find the CD tracks featuring station promos hard to fathom or just plain irritating. Always well-produced, they tend to lapse into doggerel (rhyming Macca with Cracker and Maraca). The only thing missing when the promo tracks end is what we hear on Sunday morning – a good few seconds of dead air (an Australia all Over quirk), and then that familiar voice - “G’day, this is Macca...hello?”
Macca’s Top 100, $50 at ABC Shops
*The author earns proportionate royalties from sales of this CD
Review by Lonnie Martin
These three CDs are a musical tribute to the great A.B. (Banjo) Paterson. They are part of a thirty year effort by Snowy Mountains band Wallis and Matilda to set the complete works of this iconic Australian poet. John Wallis himself (being the writer, arranger, and producer), has been the driving force behind the success of these CDs. This collection is more varied than I would have anticipated, encompassing a variety of styles. All with John Wallis's very pleasant voice in the front of the mix and backed by a lovely mix of instrumentation and solid harmony vocals.
Wallis presents Paterson in all of his moods from bush ballads and sentimental stories to character sketches and populist doggerel.
Wallis is a grand interpreter and story teller and manages to hold interest even in tracks over fifteen minutes long.
The collection is obviously aimed at commercial interests, being beautifully produced and using contemporary instruments and appealing to the "Aussie" sensibility (such as Qantas ads including lovely children's choirs) and our need for fairly naked jingoism.
As a collector, these recordings should be on your shelf, but for me there is a certain lack of authenticity. Perhaps it is simply my own prejudices getting in the way but the songs all feel very shiny and slick, and I can't imagine them being sung around a session or a campfire.
Regardless of my reservations this is a stunning achievement and well worth the listening.
Downloadable from iTunes; www.wallisandmatilda.com.au or contact Access Music.