Take Me to Town may count as one album but it’s actually three CDs full of Australian alternative country music artists, some of whom will be familiar to readers of this blog – such as Tracy McNeil, The Weeping Willows, Lachlan Bryan, William Crighton and Jen Mize – and some who may be unknown simply because they are new.
Take Me to Town is the creation of Dave Favours from Sydney label Stanley Records, in concert with Chris Hamilton of Americana site Post to Wire, and Areatha Bryant of Mother Hen Touring. The trio decided on a list of artists and also secured some tracks that are exclusive to this release, from Ben Leece (who is about to release his debut album) and the always-compelling Katie Brianna, Sam Newton, Den Hanrahan, Peta Caswell and the increasingly prominent Michael Carpenter. Indeed, almost half the songs are exclusive to the compilation, so if you’re a country music fan who is wondering if it’s worth purchasing, that alone should convince you.
I’m fond of saying that country music is a broad umbrella and this compilation is proof that alternative country, too, deserves that description. The 47 tracks demonstrate that alt-country is flourishing around the land and pushing that genre, and Australian country music in general, into bold territory. There are elements of traditional country forms in these songs, reworked in a contemporary way or with a vocal flourish that creates something interesting. In some ways the compilation is an education about how country music is being interpreted and fashioned by new or new-is artists, and also how the work of more established artists like Lachlan Bryan and The Weeping Willows compares with songs from emerging artists. In this way the compilation also serves an almost anthropological purpose: the artists on this album are all pretty much from the same generation, yet how they approach their work is 47 ways of different.
I started to make a list of standout tracks on Take Me to Town and then realised it would be too long to be effective. There are artists on here you won’t know but, like me, that one track will encourage you to seek out their work. The songs by the artists who are already well known will reassure you that you didn’t imagine it: they really are that good. The combination establishes that this compilation is actually bigger than the sum of its 47 parts, because it manages to create excitement, encourage wonder, facilitate curiosity and bring joy all at once.
Take Me to Town is available from 28 September 2018 and only on CD.
Album release shows:
October 12 – The Stag & Hunter, Newcastle NSW
Featuring The Heartache State, Dan Brodie, James Thomson, Ben Leece & Left of the Dial, Jen Mize, Dave Favours and The Roadside Ashes
October 13 – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney NSW
Featuring Sydney cowpunks Spurs For Jesus, Melbourne’s The Heartache State & Dan Brodie, Jen Mize, Adam Young & Brielle Davis, Jen Mize, Dave Favours and The Roadside Ashes and Ben Leece
October 14 – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla NSW
Featuring The Heartache State, Dan Brodie, Jen Mize Peta Caswell and Dave Favours and The Roadside Ashes.
November 10 – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne VIC
Featuring (Upstairs) Eaten By Dogs, Chris Pickering Experiment, Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, The Weeping Willows, Skyscraper Stan, Adam Young & The Down Main, Dave Favours and the Roadside Ashes
(Downstairs) Bill Jackson, Katie Brianna, Ben Leece, Mitch Power)
November 30 – The Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane QLD
Featuring Halfway, The Heartache State, Hana Brenecki, Dave Favours and the Roadside Ashes