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.
Continue reading “Album review: Take Me to Town”
Golden Guitar winners Aleyce Simmonds and Lachlan Bryan do just fine – more than fine, in fact – as artists in their own right, Simmonds as a solo artist and Bryan with his band, The Wildes. Simmonds’s most recent album is More than Meets the Eye and Bryan and the Wildes put out Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music earlier this year.
This new single, ‘Heart You Saved’, was originally from neither album but appears on the new bonus edition of More than Meets the Eye. It’s an achingly bittersweet song with both singers’ voices bearing tinges of longing and regret. It is truly a joint production, with Simmonds’s talent for open-hearted songwriting and Bryan’s for unexpectedly lovely melodies combining to create a song that is different from their previous releases yet appealing to fans of both. It’s a song for lovers of music, and those whose who don’t mind a beautiful song with a melancholic seam. It’s also a song that sits well in the canon of both artists.
Listen to ‘Heart You Saved’ on Soundcloud.
Apple Music | iTunes | Amazon
Apple Music | iTunes | Amazon
Since I saw Lachlan Bryan play for the first time, several years ago in Tamworth, and then listened to his solo album Shadow of the Gun, I’ve been a fan. Bryan has a way with words, and a way with music, and he combines the two to tremendous effect. The latest release from him and The Wildes, Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music, provides more evidence of that effect, and I was very pleased to have an opportunity to talk to Lachlan about the album.
It’s release day and it’s a fantastic album – but how are you feeling? Are you relieved it’s out? Nervous about people’s reactions? Are you excited?
I see people posting about their release days, because I’m Facebook friends with other musicians, and I know everyone tries to make it look exciting, but I think it’s more nerve-wracking than exciting. It’s not so much that I’m nervous about people’s reactions – we really love this record. We feel very close to it – so obviously people’s reactions are important – but it’s more that, I guess, the goalposts keep changing when you release music. Once upon a time people probably wanted millions of record sales, and then at other times people wanted reviews and things, and everything has changed. There’s not really many music magazines now and newspapers don’t run stories about music very often. So it’s almost as though release day isn’t as important – it’s when we go out and start playing shows and actually playing songs to people and giving them a chance to take it home with them. That’s probably what I look forward to more than actual release day.
Do you think there’s now a more direct relationship with your audience because there aren’t those gatekeepers – well, they’re gatekeepers in a way – but especially with the genre you’re in, do you feel like that connection is stronger with the listener?
Yes, I do. I think the relationship with the audience is more important than ever. And I have to admit that for me the best way to have that has always been live performance, and maybe even more than ever now. I’m not the best at getting on Facebook and thanking everybody all the time, and being nice and friendly. I try and do those kinds of things but it doesn’t come naturally to me. But it does come naturally to me to get up on stage and play the songs. So the two aspects of music that I love are playing, and writing and recording are one process for us these days. All the other stuff is weird. But I do love the close connection with the audience. I do feel it more at live shows than I do during social media experiences. And I remember when we first put out albums, we’d worry about reviews coming in and all that sort of stuff – ‘What’s this writer or that writer going to say about us’ – and it’s a real shame in a way that a lot of those writers don’t have their jobs at the Sydney Morning Herald or wherever any more. So while I do love the close relationship with the public, I do lament the lack of gatekeepers in some ways as well.
Continue reading “Interview: Lachlan Bryan”
I’ve been waiting a long time for Lachlan Bryan to release a bad song – and I’m still waiting. Because, yet again, he seems incapable of turning out an unsatisfactory tune, and this time he has roped not only his band, the Wildes, into the failure but ARIA award winner Shanley Del as well.
Bryan and bandmate Damian Cafarella wrote ‘The Basics of Love’ with Melbourne songwriter Nia Robertson, and the track is from the forthcoming Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes album, due for release in 2018. I’m not holding my breath in anticipation of that being a dud, either. In fact, I expect it to be another extraordinary collection of great songs, just like the last few albums.
Watch ‘The Basics of Love’ on YouTube.
The Mountain, the most recent album from Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes, was released at the end of 2015. Fans (like me) might be growing a little impatient for a new album … but if you’re not yet a fan, the latest single from that fine album, ‘A Long Way to Fall’, has just been released, so take this as an opportunity to acquaint yourself with one of the best acts in Australian music – then you can join the ranks of the impatient.
Listen to ‘A Long Way to Fall’ on Soundcloud. Buy The Mountain on
‘Back to Earth’ is a Willie Nelson song wonderfully made over by Werris Creek’s Marie Hodson and Melburnian Laclan Bryan. You can hear Willie at work in the bittersweet lyrics yet the power and nuance given to the song belong entirely to Hodson and Bryan.
You can listen to the song on Soundcloud.
There is a television show that has had several productions around the world. It’s called The X Factor. It’s named after that indefinable quality that seems common to star performers of the musical and acting variety (although, in the case of the show, just musical). While it’s debatable if any of the contestants on these shows have that X factor, there is no question that Lachlan Bryan possesses it. Or maybe it’s magic, because he produced magic on his last two albums, Shadow of the Gun and Black Coffee, and he’s done it again on his latest, The Mountain.
Part of Bryan’s magic no doubt stems from something he identifies on track 9, ‘Fool for Love’, when he sings that he has always been a complicated boy. Complication is a seam running through his whole body of work, along with melancholy, guilt and responsibility. These are high-stakes themes to work with, but he also knows the difference between grand and grandiose. That said, on every album Bryan reliably produces several songs that are destined to break a listener’s heart. On this album it’s ‘Afraid of the Light’, ‘View from the Bridge’ and ‘Fool for Love’. But lest anyone think he’s spending too long in the shadows, he’s not afraid of a major key, as songs like ‘The King and I’ and ‘I Don’t Make the Rules’ attest.
There is one mystery on this album: the song ‘The Secret I’ll Take to the Grave’ appeared on Shadow of the Gun and no reason is given why it’s repeated here. Still, long-time fans are advised that you’re not confused: it is the same song. Otherwise, all the songs are original to the album and they show both the talent that has always been evident in Bryan’s songwriting and his maturation as a writer and singer. They also give the Wildes plenty of opportunities to display their own talents, and this does sound like a band’s album rather than Bryan superimposed over session players.
Bryan has a distinctive voice: rich, often smooth, never brittle. That voice is more relaxed and also more commanding on this album than in the past. In general Bryan sounds more at ease, and so he should. He knows what he’s doing, we know what he’s doing, and while he could never be accused of producing ‘easy listening’, it is very, very easy to listen to an album as good as this one.
The Mountain is out now through ABC Music/Universal.