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Reviewed by Ian Dearden
One Step Forward, the (mainly) a cappella group of Maree Robertson, Ann Bermingham and John Thomson were a Brisbane based folk ensemble from 1990 to 1995. Focused on powerful three part vocal harmony arrangements of songs both personally and globally polemical and political, they proved that it was possible to be passionate and musical, in the one breath. But like many such ventures, the participants moved on to other (musical and non-musical) ventures, leaving just memories, and a cassette album, long out of print.
Wind on twenty years, and with the assistance of a generous benefactor, One Step Forward re-united for one last concert at Magda Community Artz on 8 November, 2015, and, in conjunction, have released a 20 track CD, superbly recorded, mixed and mastered by the inimitable & ubiquitous Mark Smith, capturing the best of the 1990s repertoire.
They may all be twenty years older, but they are sounding as sweet and as stunning and as vital as they always did. Singing truth to power describes this repertoire best, all performed with exquisite musicianship and heartbreak harmonies. The songs range from Judy Small’s Bridget Evans, through classics like Hold The Fort, Stephen Foster’s Hard Times and the 19th century anthem, How Can I Keep From Singing?, to a superb arrangement of Sting’s Children’s Crusade, Fred Small’s defiant I Will Stand Fast; and the iconic, baton-passing Si Kahn-penned They All Sang Bread And Roses!! As an empty nester, the words of Khalil Gibran’s poem, Your Children, with music by Ysaye Barnwell, and Don Henderson’s The Kids Will Grow strike deep chords (no pun intended), but Bill Caddick’s heartbreaking Unicorns still grabs me everytime!!
So there it is – 20 songs, all wrapped in gorgeous and hypnotic harmonies, as relevant now as they were twenty years ago, sung by three vocal virtuosi, all still singing as powerfully, passionately and musically as they did when they last traversed this material. My only criticism is that it is not possible to listen to this album without unconsciously finding yourself singing along, searching for that elusive fourth harmony!! How can any of us keep from singing, indeed, when confronted with such sounds?
You can find out more and get yourself a copy by contacting Maree on
For online purchase, go to www.cloudstreet.org/osf
For other options, contact Ann Bermingham on 0401683830
Reviewed by Anne Infante
Another jewel of an album from The Goodwills (Bob and Laurel Wilson), The Last Waterhole features 13 outstanding new original songs from the pen of the ultra-gifted Bob Wilson. As always, Bob’s lyrics are individual, insightful, elegant, poetic, sometimes acerbic and strike a chord of similar experience in the listener, tugging at the heartstrings and involving them in the stories of life as seen through his perceptive eyes. The tunes are memorable and perfectly complement the lyrics, the album is impeccably produced with beautiful artwork ... in fact, the whole presentation is a fine work of art.
Bob plays guitars and harmonicas and he and Laurel blend their voices in flawless harmony. They are joined by friends, who also just happen to also be superb performers: Silas Palmer (keys, fiddle, Hammond organ); Steve Cook (guitars, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, bouzouki, electric bass, percussion); Erin Sulman (drums, percussion); Tim Finnegan (double bass); Rose Broe (accordion, harmonies); and Mal Webb who did the brass arrangement for Buddy’s Gone to Conondale. The album was recorded and mixed by Pix Vane Mason of Pix Records.
A bonus is the attractively illustrated book of the lyrics with Bob’s reflections on how he came to write the songs which range from comic to heart-renderingly poignant to eerily dark, in a variety of musical styles.
Here are stories of travellers and migrants, meditations on life and love; and although you listen to it over and over, it remains fresh and vibrant. Buddy’s Gone to Conondale speaks of the inevitable loss of farmland and green paddocks to developers; Burning Father’s Letters is touchingly insightful and Ore Train Blues, yet another great train song, reflects the loss of jobs to robot technology; Rangitiki (so new it was still being edited in the studio) poignantly reminds us of the 1950s and 60’s migrations to the colonies (economic refugees seeking a better life) and poses the unspoken and pertinent question, ‘Why, if it was okay then, is it not okay now?’ Then there’s the quirky Waterfront Row (could the rising waters really get that far?) and Paul Who? a satire on the cult of (male) personality. I personally love The Morris Ale, teamed with the traditional Mucky Gumboots and Dead Man’s Shirt is just spooky! And that’s just for starters!
The title track was honoured for inclusion on the 2015 Trad & Now annual compilation CD Pick of the Crop (CD 8).
The Goodwills are at Goodwills Website also visit Bob Wilson's blog
The Goodwills will be appearing at the Illawarra Folk Festival at Bulli near Wollongong, which runs from 14 to 17 January 2016. Info at illawarrafolkfestival.com.au
Do yourself a favour and shout yourself a copy of The Last Waterhole for Christmas ... or just because it’s a lovely CD!
Review by Cara Oliveri
Purveyor of sweet dreams, Brisbane-based singer-songwriterAngharad Drake makes enchanting folk tunes. Lulling you into a peaceful state with her lullaby melodies, Drake elicits endless daydreams about love. Now, cutting deeper still into love’s highs and lows, her debut album Sword is one hypnotising listen.
Brisbane folk songstress Angharad Drake opens the floodgates with her heartfelt debut album
After releasing a bunch of EPs and playing plenty of gigs around Bribane, Drake has proven to be something special. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, her honest and intimate songs have won over fans nationwide. Bringing together some musically-talented mates (including Alexander Mitchell from Moses Gunn Collective, Furrs and The Deckchairs) to help record her new tunes at Brisbane’s Soundtekoma Studios, Drake’s album is loaded with even more endearingly honest tales about love.
Once some gentle guitar strumming eases us into the dreamy soundscape, Drake’s emotional croon exposes the Sword’s beating heart. Laying it bare on the title track, Drake admits: “My heart was aching for you / But I kept on dreaming about deep blue / And all that I’ve learnt about love is that love keeps its guns loaded / And all that I’ve learnt about pain is that pain keeps its arms open.” As the steady drum beat rises and falls with Drake’s soothing, impassioned vocals, the tune suspends you in a land where memories and fantasies collide.
Submerging deeper into Drake’s “deep blue” of truths, Water is a flood of honesty. Amid the stream of guitar strumming, Drake earnestly shares that, “There will be no understating this / I have done much more than I’ll confess with all these secrets I can’t speak and all these lies I couldn’t keep / The water gets cold / The water gets deep.” As waves of harmonies confess her secrets, the percussion swells and amplifies the tune’s beautifully ethereal mood.
Wistful tracks like Majesty and Down are laden with soft guitar and dreamy harmonies. Simple but sweet folk tunes, they really steal your heart. But, the most heartrending tale is final track Nobody elieves. Swollen with sadness, its delicate melody is soaked in longing and regret. Drake’s yearning paints the tragedy: “There’s a light on in the kitchen / But my love is gone.” As she searches her soul for answers to why her love has left, she ends with the question, “Did I love you enough?” and you feel her sadness wash over you.
A storyteller of lullabies laced in love’s woes, Drake’s honesty is her most endearing quality. With her album out now, do yourself a favour and feast your ears on her sweet melodies and spellbinding harmonies as she hits the road on her Sword tour this month.
Review by Andrea Baldwin
Ann Leung says This album embodies so much of me, and her CD impresses as a work of art into which she has poured body and soul. Ann's Chinese name, printed on the cover above her Australian name, means wildgoose. The design features photographs of Ann in a temple, joyously swirling a large flame-coloured cloth. These images – by turns playful and meditative, often accompanied by a quirky little cartoon goose – signal the work of an artist looking both inside and outside herself, asking serious questions, but with gentle humour and warm delight.
Sophisticated production by Michael Fix layers the lead vocal among the other instruments so the lyrics are sometimes almost subliminal, their message conveyed more by the structure and tonal qualities of the music than by the words. You could use this album for yoga or meditation, background music to soothe and heal after a busy day, but it also rewards close and repeated listening, to fully appreciate the thoughtful lyrics, clever variations in tempo and texture, and breathtakingly subtle choices of instrumentation and effects.
The introductory track – haunting cries of wild geese – sets the tone for the whole album: dream-like, evocative, beautiful in itself while always hinting at worlds beyond, the unknown and the far-away.
Mia's Song, introduced by chanting, embodies the qualities already ascribed to this album by a number of commentators: joyful, inspirational, spiritual. Sea in Your Eyes is a slower celebration of the immensity of small things: listen for the lovely incursion of wave sounds. In Sky Meets Land, Ann's finger-picking guitar and a hint of jew's-harp lend a country hue to a train journey into the unknown. Stanley delicately sketches a homeless man waiting for the sun to rise.
I Fell Softly captures the tentative beginning, in a single moment, of a new love story. June is gently cheerful, while Will I Remember is a wistful reflection on love, loss and memory. More chanting introduces and celebrates the wisdom of Mohandas Ghandi in Mahatma. Themes of spiritual possibility are explored in Beyond What We Know and the later track The Angels Came. Breathe meditates on how breath connects body, mind, spirit, and the world around us, with ethereal backing vocals by Angela Toohey. The album wraps up with the wild geese taking flight, before the bonus track – Jevolo, an evocative soundscape created by Ann and Michael Fix, featuring Nadia Sunde.
Ann, an architect as well as a singer-songwriter and musician, says she dreams of connection, healing and a world of peace. This glorious album contributes to that kind of world.
More at: Ann Leung's Facebook page and Ann Leung's website
Review by Ian Dearden
This is a gorgeous, ethereal and entrancing album!! Wonderful songs from Ann have been brought to life by the extraordinary recording, playing & production talents of the magical Michael Fix at his Parklands Studio in Brisbane. There are also a host of other talented musicians & performers including Sarah Calderwood, Suzanne Hibbs, Mirko Ruckels, Rebecca Wright, Nadia Sunde, Angela Toohey, Chris Hall & the whole Winterbreak Choir conducted by Christine Collister.
Clearly Ann has great taste & discernment in choosing musical collaborators!!
This is a fantastic album - a lovely collection of original songs, brought to life in an exquisitely
beautiful way, sung superbly by Ann!! Sheer musical heaven.
Buy it - you will love it!!
Review by Kara-Mia Muso
I must admit to you all that I have been a huge fan of Ann Leung's gorgeous music for quite a long time now, so I couldn't wait to get my copy of her latest CD "dreams of a wildgoose" produced by the fabulous Michael Fix and Mastered by Dave Neil at The Refinery. Right from the very first track of honking wild geese in flight, you are transported to a magical space filled with top quality lyrics, stories, musicianship and melodies, with the beautifully soft, lilting vocals of Ann and her friends.
There are so many layers to these thought provoking tracks. Fabulous musicianship from all those involved, with many of my favourite Brisbane artists contributing to the gorgeous melodies with stylish precision, harmonies and instrumentation.
What a joy it has been to listen to this uplifting music and to share in Ann's journey. The CD cover and inserts are beautifully put together with photographs by the very talented Chris Hall. I will be listening to these tracks over and over. So serene. So inspirational. It transports you to a state of bliss where troubles melt away and you feel in touch with your own personal Angels. This CD has my highest recommendation. Make sure you get your own today.
Review by Ian Dearden
Mark Cryle is one of Australias best contemporary songwriters. It follows that any CD featuring songs from his pen is an eagerly anticipated delight. Let me tell you then that “the taste of the rain” (the CD title defies normal protocols of capitalisation) from Marks current duo with fiddler/vocalist Carmel Newman is a joy to behold, or perhaps more importantly, to listen to!! As an aside, the packaging, featuring cover art and layout by David Symons and portrait photography by Katherine OMalley is gorgeous!
The album features seven new Mark Cryle originals, with Carmel handling lead vocals (superbly) on three of those songs - Bridie Mahoney, Slip Away and Just Call My Name. This should come as no surprise – after many years experience as the songwriter and bassist for Spot The Dog, Mark has developed a special facility in crafting songs for female singers. In particular, the distressingly sad tale of the eponymous narrator in Bridie Mahoney is rendered with exquisite and heartbreaking emotion by Carmel. With Just Call My Name, Carmel projects an authentic sense of hope in a troubled world, where even one person offering a helping hand can make all the difference. Marks more world weary lead vocals in turn inhabit the shy musician who falls for the New Girl at the Session; the lovelorn crooner contemplating lost romance in the taste of the rain; and the ageing, ragged trousers narrator philosophically contemplating a life lived as The Moon Turned Blue. In a complete change of mood, Shes Comin Back sees Mark joyfully (and uproariously) channelling every empty nester parent preparing for the return of a peripatetic offspring to the bosom of the family!!
The album is rounded out with the traditional I Know My Love, also featuring Carmels vocals, well-suited to this up tempo rendition of a song learnt from The Corrs, and two sets of tunes, The Three Little Jigs (pun presumably intended) and The Julia Set. Carmels sinuous and melodic fiddle playing is, of course, squarely up front on the tune playing, but features delightfully throughout the album, intertwining with, and underscoring the singing in the songs, but letting loose (in a delightful way) on the instrumental passages and tunes.
Mark contributes skilful guitar, mandolin and bass playing to the album, with further instrumental support from Rebecca Wright on cello (and some lovely backing vocals), Donald Mackay on bodhran, Chrissy Euston on accordion and the inimitable Michael Fix on guitar, banjo, dulcimer (his world debut) and percussion. The multi-talented Mr Fix also recorded, mixed, mastered and (together with Rebecca Wright and Mark Cryle) co-produced the album.
This is yet another delightful, charming and engaging album from Mark Cryle; a master songwriter, comfortable in his own skin, relishing the duo format with the talented Carmel Newman, and they (and all who have worked with them) can be justly proud of the result. Amidst all the pain and heartbreak of the world around us in these troubled days, Mark and Carmel bring love, joy and hope through their music, and goodness knows, we need all we can get of that!! Go and buy this album and do your bit.
You can buy the album at www.markcryle.com or catch Mark and Carmel at a gig near you sometime soon.
Review by Christine Venner-Westaway
Steve Dorahy may describe himself as an ordinary bloke but this is no ordinary CD. It’s a moving homage to loving parents, family life and values and the ingenuity of human beings. Then there is the extraordinary musicianship of ALL the instrumentalists, plus the husky, mesmeric vocals of Rachel Witney – and voilà you have the flood!! It’s also quintessentially Anglo/Celtic Australian.
Each song has been masterfully choreographed, giving each a unique identity and sound – a no mean feat. The instrumentation appears to be integral to each song, weaving a conversation between instruments and players alike. With more than a dozen different instruments listed, they appear in all sorts of rich, varied and interesting combinations, which had me scrambling for the CD cover to identify what was being played and who was playing it – I love that! The chromatic button accordion and the octave mandolin fairly had me smitten.
The album is cleverly and fittingly book-ended by great tunes composed by Steve (the dubai haircut - sung by the pakistani barbershop quartet no less) & Les Dorahy (late afternoon breeze). The Brothers Dorahy did the recording and producing, the mandolins and resonator guitars were built by Les and he did the cover and sleeve art! little darling from the west, the flood’ and lieutenant cook’s lament were mixed in Co Galway – nice touch!
All the songs are stand outs, but if pushed for favourites I’d nominate the universal salesman with his “degree in ambiguity and a black-belt in deceit”: a ripper, all-out quirky tune, with comparable lyrics, choice of instruments and vocal harmonies. You feel like you’re drowning in sleaze. Then ‘the flood’ - a haunting song of regret, its repetitive beat and drone mimicking the relentless rain and its sinister capacity to ruin and destroy on one level and the flood of recurring memories, emotions and missed opportunities on the other.
Delicious lyrics feature in other songs as well such as Steve “...singing Be Bop a Lula in the middle of mass” and singing “...my best Mario Lanza from my 8 year old chest”. As for ‘philomena and the gorilla’ the whole song is hilarious. This CD will make you belly laugh and cry – possibly at the same time.
The Flood overflows with affection, intimacy, memories, mischief, secret family business, musicianship at its best and the magic of story. This is indeed a labour of, and litany to, love. This is a top class addition to our folk lexicon. Congratulations and thank you Steve.
To obtain your copy
Review by Ross Roache
This CD won’t appeal to everyone - in particular, people who don’t like dance music or song or Australiana. But for those who do, The Old Aussie Bush Band is a rare treat in store. It is the second digitised offering from longtime Aussie bush band musicians, John Spencer and Geoff Welham.
I can see Geoff Welham dancing to the first tune - in joy unbound: John Spencer’s lyrical and delightful ‘Jenny’s Hornpipe’, written for his wife. This most apt introduction is followed by a popular session hornpipe inspired by Thomas Paine and harking back to Paine’s time: ‘The Rights of Man’.
The artistry continues with ‘Sean Ryan’s’, ‘Mooncoin’ and ‘Top of the Cork Road’, John’s merry mandolin and redoubtable tenor banjo leading us through this sweetly-tempered set of jigs.
‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’. The first vocal track, Geoff’s voice full of music and light, the old Irish street song interspersed with other polkas to make a set the boys often use when playing for dances.
There’s more; too many to mention.
Michael O’Rourke’s ‘The Poison Train’. Geoff’s weary, earthy vocals to John’s unflinching harmonies evoke the bleakness of redundancy and human dignity denied – the substance of the song – and the light down the line!
‘One of the Has-Beens’. These two would have you believe they’re singing about themselves. Perhaps there’s a grain of truth in it. However, I can tell you, their music, particularly in this rendition, yet transcends dull mortality.
The majestic ‘Brian Boru’s March’, with Geoff Welham on harp.
There’s also a Roaring 20s-style ‘Frankie and Johnny’, and a two-man, eight-piece, mandola-led set of French tunes to finish: ‘French Bourees’.
It’s a fine selection of songs and music, delivered with great artistry by two of the wiliest, woolliest, stoutest and truest hearts of the old Aussie bush band. Certainly a bob - or two - WelSpent.
John Spencer and Geoff Welham have been playing and performing folk music for over 40 years and, together, as WelSpent, for five years. The Old Aussie Bush Band is available online from or
(Ross Roache is rhythm guitarist for The Champion Moreton Bay Band.)
Review by Juliette Poole
The legendary Bill Scott (1923-2005) was a folklorist, a collector of songs and stories, whose work has been hugely influential in preserving and keeping alive Australia's folk heritage. He was also in his own right a prolific poet, author, songwriter and storyteller, and this collection covers a wide selection of his original work, remastered by Roger Ilott of Restless Music, from archival tapes.
There can't be too many folkies in Australia who haven't joined in singing the chorus of Hey, Rain! at one time or another. It's the title song of the album, and one of the earliest songs written by Bill, who could never have imagined at the time that it would become the folk anthem it is today. It's a beautiful song for harmonising, but well worth listening to sung here by the man himself, the wry humour in the words brought to the fore by his laid-back style of delivery.
Bill was a master of the bush yarn, who loved telling tall stories. Those who remember the days of the old Folk Centre in Ann Street will find some old friends here: The Dog's Ghost Story, a tale with a twist told by a drover's dog; The Boundary Rider's Tale, chronicling the misfortunes of a boundary rider who sets out to do a good deed; The Onion, a moral tale about greed, and other humorous offerings.
But there are more serious tracks as well, like the lovely Hard on a Lass, and Mt Tully Lullaby, sung simply and with feeling. The last one is The Old Man's Song, a rollicking song looking back over a full and adventurous life, and ending with the challenge, 'What good is your life if it isn't a song?'
Hey Rain would make an excellent addition to any Australian folk collection.
More at: restlessmusic.com.au
Producer Roger Illott, a Restless Music Archival Re-issue.
Review by John Kane
I didn't know Sharon Doro, the Granite Belt artist who died last year (2014 ed) after a long battle with the auto-immune disease Lupus, but wish I had.
On the evidence of this CD, first released in 1992, she was a gifted player of the accordion and melodeon. She is supported here by a collection of fine folk instrumentalists and singers, delivering a consistently excellent set of traditional tunes, mostly arranged by Sharon, as well as a few songs penned by contemporary artists.
About half the numbers are pure instrumentals, excellent fare for an old-fashioned barn dance (indeed one is called Pine Tree Barn Dance). All of them capture the living spirit of traditional folk bands, though I particularly liked the jaunty-yet-melancholy Aron's Boat Song.
It should be noted that, as well as an accomplished instrumentalist, Sharon was also a very effective singer of folk songs. Nothing fancy, just a plain, unadorned singing style in a voice of affecting clarity and quality. I particularly liked her moving rendition of Dougie Maclean's On the Borderline, though her vocals also show well on solid versions of Curragh of Kildare and California.
There are no mediocre, throwaway tracks, and all the numbers bear repeated playings remarkably well. My one complaint would be on the plainness of Restless Music's packaging. This no doubt reflects a shoe-string budget and is therefore forgivable, but it would have been nice to have some colour to reflect the varied hues of the tracks themselves, as well as more information on a fine artist, sadly gone. Nevertheless, a superb sonic memorial worth adding to your collection.
More at: restlessmusic.com.au
Review by Anne Infante
Swampfish are the talented duo of Kim Downs and Liz Hall-Downs. Their crowd-funded album Homeward Dove has been a long time in the making but thankfully has finally seen the light of day, bringing with it a joyful and completely satisfying listening experience of sweet sounds, lovely heart-stirring harmonies and a collection of excellent songs.
Kim and Liz bring their own special magic to fourteen well-chosen tracks. Nine are originals by Kim, an exceptional songwriter who combines interesting, quirky and compelling imagery (‘feel as comfy as a dog in a tree’!) with melodious tunes that slide into unexpected chord progressions.
The album is beautifully crafted. Nothing jars, from the slow, lazy and strongly hypnotic Fantasy Life (Kim Downs) and Dance Me To The End Of Love (Leonard Cohen) to the upbeat Going Nowhere and Greenbank Stomp, both by Kim. It’s old timey, jazzy, bluesy, alt-country, with some wondrous gospel overtones in Your Long Journey (Arthel ‘Doc’ Watson and Rosa Lee-Watson) and Who Will Sing For Me? (John Thomas Ely).
The musicians are Kim Downs (vocals, guitars, banjo, trombone); Liz Hall-Downs (vocals, autoharp, maracas); Ian Hall (percussion); George Valenti (double bass, accordion, ukulele) and Gary Nunn (accordion) with some side ‘yahoos’, ‘yee-haars’ and glass clinks from Wayburn Downs. The album was produced by Josh Ingram and Kim Downs with photos and artwork by Kim, Lee Mansfield and Ria Willering.
This is an outstanding collaboration by Swampfish and their friends and family and well worth the listening ... not just once, but many times over.
My favourite track? Well, I like them all, but Kim’s Thinking Small really speaks to me ... possibly because of the fuzzy little ducks! Irresistible!
More at: Swampfish website and at www.facebook.com/Swampfish
Review by Don Nichols
and CD Baby
Review by Jason 'Jinx' Zwoerner
I must admit from the outset that I'd never heard of Leigh Sloggett before I was given his cd "More Than I Need". I was asked to write a review by an acquaintance from that fine folk rag called, The Folk Rag, after a Saturday arvo of chummy, folky, beery, frivolity at an inner city Brisbane quaffery. He thrust the CD into my hand and bellowed,"Ya can keep it if you give me 300 words for the folk rag!!"
My ears pricked up immediately,"Free stuff? You bloody beeyooty!!" I found a hifi post-haste and chucked it on, and was delighted to hear something not only new but familiar and nostalgic at the same time. Leigh Sloggett has drawn together some very inspired and talented muso's for this project who really know their stuff and he's managed a pretty good result that to my mind should be copping high rotation over the wireless.
The album kicks off with a couple of infectious ear worms like "Feeling Good Today" and "Dog Line" both of which are rich in impressive and soulful old church hall harmonies. The party keeps rolling with the title song "More Than I Need" offering subtle Leo Fender vibrato. This being the only electric bit I can find, and rightly so, because this album is unashamedly full-bore acoustic and I'm a pushover for resonator and lap steel slide. I particularly love the the violin and mandolin arrangements and this album administers all of that in ample quantity and dress circle quality. The acerbic lyrics on "No Room at the Top" provide the listener with a cautionary tale, to take nothing for granted, see everything for what it is, appreciate what you have and understand that all tyrants petty or powerful will fall.
This album proves that Leigh Sloggett is no slouch when'd it comes to hard work for it's bursting at the seams with eleven songs. The man is a talent and should be proclaimed as such. I hear nuances of Ed Kueper, Xavier Rudd, Steve Earl, Junior Wells, Robert Johnson, Ry Cooder and perhaps even Springsteen, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash or a dozen others who may or may not be influences to Sloggett. Really none of those comparisons matter at all because Leigh Sloggett has an obvious passion for writing and is someone who likes and plays excellent music. His reworking of the Dylan penned "Lonesome Hobo " is a shining example of how to nail a cover and claim ownership of the version. This is a fine album with, to use an old vernacular, all killer and no filler, and deserves close attention by anyone who enjoys folky well played blues, tinged with penetrating solidly constructed lyrics. Should you get this album? Only if you have a taste for contemporary honest to goodness, cheek by jowl blues/folk fusion music.
As for me, I'm keeping this one in the player, and sending my thanks to the bloke from The Rag. Cheers and make mine a double (no ice) - Jinx
More at: Home page or CDBaby - Leigh_Sloggett3
Review by Ewan MacKenzie
Small Steps is a giant leap in the continuing musical journey of Tina Fullerton and Warwick Hargreaves, who together make up the jazz/groove duo Out of Abingdon.
Recorded live with no overdubs in St Mary's Church in Ipswich on a chilly winter's day, this collection will warm the coldest heart.
OoA leave plenty of space for you to wander in amongst the sound, standing beside Tina as she weaves her intimate vocal between her big bass grooves and Warwick's slippery guitar lines.
The songs are mostly self-penned, an exception being their surprising and stunning take on the Kylie Minogue hit 'Can't Get you (Out of my Head)'. Call me a romantic - and many do - but I lean more towards the bitter sweet 'Like Alice', and 'Three Piece Suit' will just, well, get your blood flowing... it is a shame in a way that it's the last track, but it'll certainly make you want to press repeat.
There's some great jazz/blues guitar across the whole CD. Warwick has honed his style over the hundreds of gigs they do - this band works hard! - and the rewards are there to hear.Tina's bass playing is assured and groove-laden, underpinning the guitar perfectly. There's more - a great acapella scatting duet on 'Do Like Eddie', the interwoven vocals on 'Three Piece Suit' and others.
The lyrics are often in the form of a conversation between Warwick and Tina, drawing you in to catch every word they sing as they overlap and knit their lines together.
So - get onto them, go to one of their gigs or their website www.outofabingdon.com.au and get a copy.
This is hip and stylish music made by two wonderful musicians working at the peak of their powers. I can't wait to see where these Small Steps take them next.
Review by Alison MacKenzie
This is the first album by Brisbane based duo Sadie and Jay and it is startlingly good. Ten tracks, all originals, weave a story. Here is a story of love and the human condition, of time passing; a story of letting go, anticipation, pure devotion, friskiness, heartbreak, drinking and longing.
The genre is hard to define. The songs are diverse in mood and rhythm but despite this, the album is not overcrowded musically.
There are a couple of stand-out songs for me. The opening track Why Would You (Jones) is immediately captivating. Who doesn't want to be that person, strong and resolute, willing to leave past mistakes behind and totally and completely be in the present? Stunning lead vocals by Sadie with layered vocal and guitar harmonies by Jay. The song keeps pestering you, over and over and over...by the fireside, on the wings of a bird in flight, on the edge of a cliff top, why would you want to be anywhere else? What a bold start. Violin accompaniment from Tom (Pixie) Owens is classical in feel but so very free and there is subtle, sympathetic cello from Rebecca Wright. The song is an anthem.
Papamoa Rag (Penman) is equally a favourite but with a totally different feel. Jaunty, happy, toe tapping guitar and lyrics and once again, the fiddle (Owen) adding a special light-heartedness. The songster may be stuck in the traffic, working for someone else but he is on his way to walking barefoot with you on the sand, under the Queensland sun.
The instrumentation throughout is spot on. Guitars, violin and cello have been beautifully recorded. Mark Smith has captured their authentic acoustic quality. Penman's finger style guitar playing is skilled and melodic providing the perfect foundation for the majority of the songs and the duo's unique sound. The keyboards and bass (Jones) are always tasteful. I'm uncertain if any of the tracks were arranged prior to recording or whether they unfolded organically but the results are fabulous. It is clear that the guest artists are all professional musicians and all are totally committed to complimenting the songs as they hear them. There is no confusion here about what should feature - it is always the songs.
The cover artwork (Penman) intrigued me. Who is this girl on the cover and why is she so melancholy? It turns out the girl's story is told in track three Ellen's Lullaby (Jones). It is a sad song, with echoes of traditional folk, and a yearning for something that you are not quite sure of and complemented by exceptional Bodhran (McKay). Percussion (Hibbs) on track five You've Got Me (Jones) sets the perfect feel for the places the songster is going, places she would not normally go....goodness, this song is hot!! Sassy electric guitar (Stewart) adds a blues feel and polish to Cigarettes and Bourbon (Penman & Jones).
There is nothing prosaic about this album. The style is fresh and the vocals, particularly from Sadie Jones, world class. I loved this album and I am curious to find out just what Sadie and Jay will do next, whatever it is it is bound to be beautiful and dangerous.
The musicians on this album are: Sadie Gwynn Jones (Vocals, Keyboard, Bass), David Jay Penman (Vocals, Guitar). The album features guest artists Rebecca Wright (Cello), Tom Owen (Fiddle), Suzanne Hibbs (Percussion), Donald McKay (Bodhran) and Robbie Stewart (Electric guitar). The album was recorded at Fruitbat Studios and recorded, mixed & mastered by Mark Smith for Real Productions.
You can hear Sadie & Jay play at local venues, folk clubs and festivals. See their website for more up-to-date gig information. Curious will be launched at the BUG on Tuesday March 3rd 2015 www.sadieandjaymusic.com
Review by Maree Robertson
There is a story behind this review, as always for me, & it’s really a review of the artists, & 2 CDs. I first heard them at Neurum Creek Music Festival last year. I was working in the shop, & from back there you can still hear everything, & sometime on Saturday afternoon, my antenna went right up, on hearing a delightful combo of gentle voices & instrumentation, & lovely original songs. Turns out it was Two Lions, & after a bit of confusion, I discovered the CD we were selling was made by them, under the name of the songwriter Chris Mallory. So, from there I set about finding out about them (as I do), & agreed to review their music, including their new CD, which is not yet released, & will be launched in Brisbane on Sunday 22nd February at the Powerhouse (free on the Turbine Platform from 3.30pm, as part of Livespark).
I’ve been playing the first album while driving for a while now, & mostly what strikes me is how lovely it is, gentle & warm hearted & what I call *little*, in the best way possible, with clean, clear arrangements, luscious harmonies, & songs that seem to settle my heart (which is a tall order I can tell you!) . The new EP is delightful too, 5 songs, all well-crafted & lilting, I recommend you get them both.
I see they are listed as being “folk roots” on Triple J, I thought “popsy folk” for the first album, & “folksy roots” for the new material, they reminded me of The Weepies & even Michael Kennedy, elsewhere they have been compared to Gillian Welch and Angus & Julia Stone. The sweetest thing I found is that they list The Mae Trio as influences, those 3 will be well chuffed to hear that, being world class though still fledgling artists themselves!
These days, the best way to check out artists & their material is to see what they have *uploaded*, so here’s 2 links that well represent why I reckon Two Lions are worthy of supporting, this song Belly of the Whale is on the new CD: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhh1ZZaUP3Y & this one has just won a northern rivers Dolphin Award for best song: Soundcloud:heading-home
Find them on FB at Two Lions Music, or on www.twolions.com.au