Single release: ‘We’re Still Here’ by Tom Curtain

Artwork_Were-Still_Tom-CurtainPart of the function of country music is to tell stories about the country – living on the land, working the land, and loving that same land even when it doesn’t seem to love you back. In times of drought – and a lot of Australia is in the worst drought many of the inhabitants can remember – country music acts as a document of what’s going on and a reassurance to those going through the worst that they are not alone.

Singer-songwriter Tom Curtain – a Golden Guitar and Southern Star winner – lives near the town of Katherine, NT, and his latest song, ‘We’re Still Here’, is a moving record of the challenges but also the determination of those who make their life and living on the land, which lately has involved not only drought but catastrophic floods. While the Northern Territory has its own seasonal challenges related to the wet, dry, build-up and build-down, ‘We’re Still Here’ was inspired by Curtain’s tour through central and western Queensland in late 2018 and early 2019. He grew up near Kingaroy in Queensland, and now runs the Katherine Outback Experience, so he has an affinity with rural, regional and remote communities, and this powerful song comes from a place of deep empathy. It’s also the first single from Curtain’s next album, due for release in November.



Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunesSpotify

Single premiere: ‘Never Look Back’ by Matt Jordan

unnamed (1).jpgThe appeal of certain songs can be rationalised: the melody’s great, the lyrics are meaningful, the chorus is fantastic. But it’s not really our rational selves that are making the decision about whether or not we love a song, or an artist. Our responses to music are immediate and, usually, emotional – ‘I love it’, ‘I hate it’. It’s only then that we try to rationalise why we’ve responded that way, and those rationalisations have meaning, because they come from a place of curiosity. Why do I love that song so much? What are the elements that are so appealing?

So attempts could be made to rationalise why ‘Never Look Back’, the new song from American roots/Americana singer-songwriter Matt Jordan, is great, but it comes down to this: it’s very lovable. (It’s also making its Australian premiere on this site today.) And here are the reasons: there is emotion in this song, and the authenticity of that emotion is in Jordan’s voice; it has a catchy chorus that lingers in the memory; and it’s tight, in that Jordan doesn’t waste time on lyrical or musical flourishes that would obstruct the meaning of the song.

In 2016 Missouri native Jordan released the single ‘Chicago’, which gained him notice in the press and features by The Shotgun Seat and American Songwriter highlighting his country-rock songs. Then he became a father and decided to take some time away from music. This song is his first in three years and while Jordan is likely unknown to Australian audiences, that should change with its release, which will appeal to fans of a few different strands of country music, and of rock.

Listen to ‘Never Look Back’ now on Soundcloud:

After its official release on 20 September you can find it on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify


Single release: ‘The Way God Made Me’ by Josh Setterfield

std_29433-01Singer-songwriter Josh Setterfield came to country music from punk, as we discussed in 2017. That’s not the stretch it might sound, as the disciplined song construction needed in punk can be applied to country. Country arguably allows more room for storytelling and, perhaps, a bigger range of emotions, because the audience expects it and is there for it. Therefore, upon releasing his unforgettable, and confronting, new song Setterfield is sending it out to listeners who will be receptive of his honesty.

‘The Way God Made Me’ is a song about depression and self-loathing. Setterfield wrote, produced and recorded the song himself, and it’s in the country rock style of his earlier releases. That style actually gives his words even more power: if this were a softer, acoustic release – which he could certainly pull off, given his voice – it could feel as though Setterfield was singing for and to himself, whereas this song, as he has recorded it, sounds like it is very much a message for and connection to his audience.

‘They say country music is all about the truth,’ says Setterfield. ‘So I wrote the truth. “The Way God Made Me” is about my struggle with depression and not knowing how to get out or explain it to people when they ask. I hit rock bottom one day and thought it was time to address it.’

You’ll have to listen to the lyrics to understand how brave the song is in terms of what he’s revealing – and the resolution of it is not in the lyrics themselves but in the fact that he has released the song. He wants others to hear this; he wants anyone who feels the same way to know that they’re not alone. It is an example of the power of art and why it’s so necessary: to, often, act as a refuge, a balm and a reassurance.

Listen to ‘The Way God Made Me’:

Apple Music | Spotify



Interview: Adam Brand and the good life

image009.pngLast year Adam Brand celebrated twenty years in Australian country music with the release of his album Milestones; this year he has been relatively quiet – because his life has just changed, in a big and wonderful way. No mystery, then, that the first single from his upcoming album (due for release next year) is ‘Life’s Been Good to Me’. We talked about the song, the very good change in his life, and the reason why his album was recorded a year early.


Your new song is another cracker and you certainly have a knack for catchy tunes. Is that a skill you’ve honed, in identifying those sorts of tunes, or is it innate?

I have no idea [laughs].

But you keep doing it, Adam! You keep finding these great songs and writing these great songs.

Look, the fact that you’ve said that is very touching. Thank you very much. But you know, when you’re writing or even choosing – I don’t write all my own stuff these days, I listen to songs from other songwriters and things like that – I just want to sing stuff that gets me going, that gets me really excited or emotional. So I guess in some ways I’m representative of a normal music fan. If it gets me excited, then it’s possibly going to excite someone else.

And maybe also part of the skill of it is in not overthinking that – it’s actually trusting your response to the song and not sitting there wondering, Am I right about that?

Second-guessing and overthinking are probably an artist’s and songwriter’s worst enemy: ‘Have I done too many of those songs?’ or ‘Will people get it?’ ‘What will they think?’ And all that kind of stuff. I learned long ago that I’ve got to shut those voices out and just go with what my heart feels. Am I excited? Does it feel good? Then it doesn’t matter, you know. Because you aren’t going to please everyone. People aren’t always going to get it. And then there’s that thing called people’s personal taste! [Laughs] They’re just not going to like it, so don’t try. Just make sure that what you’re singing, you believe in it, you love it, you love doing it yourself, and then leave the rest in God’s hands.

Continue reading “Interview: Adam Brand and the good life”

Single release: ‘Driving in the Dark’ by Amanda Jordan

Amanda-Jordan-Single-Art-DrivingintheDark-High-Res.pngCanadian country music is developing its own identity, led by stars such as Gord Bamford. Although country music roads do led from the USA – to Australia as well as other countries – Canadians have long had a distinct approach to their national cultural output that is not so much about proving that it’s distinct as keeping their heads down and working to make the best song, book and so on as they can.

Amanda Jordan is a country-pop artist originally from Smith Falls, near Ottawa, ON, who has just released the single ‘Driving in the Dark’ and an accompanying video, which you can see below. And Jordan has, indeed, been working to make her music great, with top-ten finalist spots in the 2016 and 2017 Ole Red Dot on the Spot Songwriting Competitions, and the finals of the 2018 Canadian Songwriting Competition for her song ‘Silverado Run’. That same year, she opened for Canadian superstar Brett Kissel in Sudbury, Ontario and was one of eight wild cards to compete for the last spot in the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase. That experience – and her subsequent songwriting work in Nashville – have led to the release of this wonderfully entertaining, moreish song.


Jordan made the decision to move to Nashville in 2018. ‘The very first time I drove to Nashville to write,’ she says, ‘my twin brother was accompanying me and telling me about how he loved to drive at night and into the sunrise. From there, the song [“Driving in the Dark”] grew. I wanted to create a happy musical energy that captures the euphoria one feels when you first fall in love and begin experiencing the world together. It’s something you can listen to as you drive along on a warm summer evening.’

Jordan will return to Canada in October for an Ontario media tour and single release show in Ottawa on 19 October to coincide with the Canadian radio release of ‘Driving in the Dark’.


Listen to Amanda Jordan on:

Apple Music | Spotify

Single and video premiere: ‘Slanguage’ by Matt Scullion

Matt Scullion Slanguage (single artwork) jpg.jpgIf anyone thought Matt Scullion’s recent single ‘Aussie As’ was the last they’d heard from him on the subject of Australian culture and language … well, they were incorrect. And that’s to the benefit of music lovers all around the land, because Scullion’s latest single, ‘Slanguage’ – which has its premiere on this site today – is not only a great companion piece to ‘Aussie As’ but a clever, clear and funny examination of Australian slang or, to borrow Scullion’s term, ‘slanguage’. In other hands this might have been a dog’s breakfast, shall we say, but Scullion’s impeccable songwriting skills turn it into a ripsnorter.

Of course, you’d expect nothing less from this seven-time Golden Guitar nominee – especially since Scullion enlisted multiple ARIA and Golden Guitar winner Shane Nicholson as producer, as he did on Scullion’s last two releases.

The idea for the song came to Scullion while he was travelling overseas, noticing how much he had to tone down his ‘slanguage’ so he could be understood. ‘I had an absolute blast writing :Slanguage”, he says. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much while writing a song. We really do have some funny sayings, like “stubby short of a six pack” or “up at sparrow’s fart”. I mean, where does that stuff come from? It’s gold and so uniquely Australian.’

Also making its premiere here today is the song’s video, which you can see below. It was shot by Luke McDonagh (White Tiger Workshop) in a classroom at Jesmond High School in Newcastle.  ‘

Both single and video arrive ahead of the release of Scullion’s new album, Aussie As, which will be released on 23 September. To celebrate the album’s release, Scullion will be playing live:

Thursday 3 October – Today’s Country 94One FM Benefit Concert – Gosford RSL – Gosford, NSW

Saturday 12 October – Newcastle Album Launch, Adamstown Community Hall, Newcastle NSW

Sunday 20 October – Bar Petite, Newcastle NSW

Friday 1 November – Sydney Album Launch at The Newsagency, Camperdown NSW

Saturday 9 November – Country At The Camp, Branxton NSW

Friday 15 November – Ulladulla Album Launch at Catholic Community Hall, Ulladulla NSW

Saturday 16 November – Country Rocks The Capital Music Festival, Canberra ACT

Saturday 7 December – Bungendore Carols By Candlelight, Bungendore NSW

Wednesday 22 to Sunday 26 January – Tamworth Country Music Festival


Pre-order the album at:

Apple Music | iTunes


Album review: Trucker Caps and Heart Attacks by Mat Black

MB Album art.jpgWith an album title like Trucker Caps and Heart Attacks, one might expect Mat Black to have the kind of gravelly, whisky-soaked-sounding voice that can sometimes be heard on country music songs about long, lonely drives on unstable roads (both literal and metaphorical). Instead, Black has a wonderful, versatile, warm and well-rounded instrument – a voice that stretches and bends and curves around the differing styles of the ten songs on his debut album.

The first single off the album, ‘Diamond Mine’, was co-written with fellow Melburnian Lachlan Bryan – Bryan has a distinctive musical identity, but the song belongs to Black. His musical lineage is in alt country and roots; his cited influences include Steve Earle and Johnny Cash, but perhaps they’d be better referred to as inspirations, because Black’s sound is not theirs. Instead he’s crafted his own identity, and it’s one of a man who clearly has stories to tell and who is able to find the right way to tell them.

The lyrics of these songs speak, in part, to darkness and difficulties – perhaps some of those aforementioned unstable roads – but Black is capable of a sweetness (not a pejorative) that suggests an ability to smooth the edges off the flint of his experience. Or, perhaps, to seek to find something good in it – even if that is to create a song out of it. Certainly Black doesn’t wallow in anything described in these songs, and the songs themselves suggest that: there is pace here, and some rollicking good times too. Musically the songs are all under the country umbrella while demonstrating Black’s versatility: there are some swampy moments, some bluesy, some honky tonk, and all of them appropriate to the song.

Ultimately, though, Black’s voice is the centrepiece. For anyone who loves music with lyrics, voice tends to be important – a singer can get in your ear and stay there, calling you back over and over to listen and pay attention, living in your mind and popping up at all sorts of odd times. Black has that kind of voice, and while it’s certainly not the only thing to love about this album, it is the first. Listen and just try to resist it.

Listen on:

Apple Music | Spotify


Album Launch
Sunday September 15
The Spotted Mallard
With special guests Gretta Ziller & Mr Alford
314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Doors 3pm, music from 3.45pm
Tix $13.50 thru Moshtix: