After Sydney singer-songwriter Blake Dantier released his single ‘Ash & Dust’ in late April it was quickly added to ABC Country, Kix Country and Australian Country Radio, its heartfelt lyrics connecting with listeners around Australia. Of course, Dantier has not been able to go out and play to those listeners himself – and it would have seemed that making a video was also out of the question, but he found a way.
‘I wasn’t initially going do to a clip because of social restrictions,’ he says, ‘but we decided last minute to pull together a small crew. We had a general idea in mind about how the clip would look, but decided exactly what spots to shoot in on the day.’
The video was directed by Bruce Dawson and shot by Lawrence Lim – both from Tribal Apes – in and around their studio at Fox Studios in Sydney’s Moore Park. The video has its premiere on this website today.
Dantier appears alone in the clip but when a song has as much impact as this one does, no embellishment is required. There was, however, one downside to making the video.
‘I was really hanging out for some KFC but it took us all afternoon and night [to shoot the video],’ says Dantier. ‘We shot for so long that KFC wasn’t open by the time we got there.’
Given that gigs are still a while off – although Dantier and partner Cass Hopetoun recently played a drive-in gig in Sydney – this video will be the most direct interaction the audience can have with Dantier. And as it perfectly complements his wonderful song, it’s worth watching over and over again.
Melbourne singer-songwriter Mitch Dean released an EP, Suburban Speakeasy, in 2017 and his new album, Holding Back the Levee, will be released on 19 June. Recorded in Melbourne with producer Colin Leadbetter, it features Damian Cafarella (Lachlan Bryan & the Wildes) on drums and electric guitar, James Gillard (The Flood) on bass and backing vocals and Sam See on piano and organ.
The first single is ‘A Face in a Long Line’, which is a song about what happens when work dries up, and also about what work means. Dean delivers it lyrically straight and emotionally rich – that is, he knows how to tell a story and do it with meaning, and that’s no doubt because he has been developing skills over several years, through garage-rock band The Marzies and country rock band The Distance. The result is a beautifully crafted song – and, no doubt, a great album to come.
Melbourne singer-songwriter Gareth Leach has joined with South Australian artist Michaela Jenke for the new single ‘My Crime’, which debuted at #3 on the iTunes Country chart. It’s a song about promise and futility, the self and the shadow self.
‘Recognising and knowing your demons when they present themselves is one thing,’ says Leach, ‘but learning to fight them, or at the least challenge yourself to overcome them, is another thing … and it can be scary as hell facing those thoughts, especially in today’s current social climate fraught with insecurity and uncertainty due to the threat of pandemics.’
Leach wrote the song then realised that it would work best as a duet, to bring about a tonal balance – light offsetting dark. After seeing Jenke perform earlier this year, he knew she was the right choice. Jenke’s ‘amazing performance and presence turns the song into a conversation,’ says Leach, ‘rather than a completely introspective dialogue from the perspective of the character, bringing the song to life … hence the constant to-ing and fro-ing between the two of us throughout the song.’
This year Leach has already released the singles ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ and ‘Old Crow Feather’, from a forthcoming album (his second). Jenke is a graduate of the CMAA Senior Academy of Country Music and winner of the 2018 Tamworth CMF Coca-Cola Battle of The New Stars competition. Her EP, Diamonds Outta Dirt, was released in 2017.
Clint Wilson is a singer-songwriter from Melbourne who released his debut album, Dark Water, in 2018 and last year released the wonderful single ‘One Button at a Time’ featuring Jen Mize. Wilson is preparing to release his second album, Another Death in the Family, on 31 July and ahead of that is about to release the new single ‘Couldn’t Promise You Rain #4’.
The song tells the story of a husband who can promise his wife love, but can’t promise her rain – and all that rain represents for a family working the land. Wilson consistently produces songs that are emotional without being sentimental, because of the restraint he shows in lyrics and delivery.
‘I got the idea for the song on a flight to Brisbane,’ says Wilson. ‘I was looking out the window and I couldn’t believe just how dry it was out there. I was imagining a couple struggling with the financial burden caused by drought.’
The song was co-written with country music legend Kevin Bennett, and recorded in Wilson’s home studio just before lockdown, with Wilson and his band members producing the track themselves. Wilson also produced the video, which was shot on his uncle’s farm near Gippsland and which has its premiere here today.
‘He showed me this old Massey Ferguson,’ says Wilson of his uncle, ‘and it pretty much told the story itself – parts held together with electrical tape and cable ties, but getting the job done nevertheless.’
While country rock artist Jay Seeney is more than adept at writing songs – such as those on his last EP, Light Me Up – for his latest release he’s chosen to cover Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle on the Hill’. After taking a break since the release of the EP, Seeney wanted to record a track that was well known and also really resonated with him.
‘”Castle on the Hill” at the core is really a throwback to all of the fun times people had as they were growing up,’ says Seeney, ‘while also indicating how dramatically things have changed over the years.’
The track was recorded the Seeney’s studio in Appin, NSW – and that was also the location for the video, which is having its premiere here today.
‘The video was a special one to shoot,’ says Seeney. ‘We shot in my home town of Appin with all the familiar sights we used to go to when we were young. The kid that we filmed with is actually my best friend’s younger brother – the clip is full of real memories from a past era.’
Seeney produced the clip – and it’s not the first time he’s taken the video helm, having been nominated for two Golden Guitars for Video of the Year for his work with Lee Kernaghan (‘Backroad Nation’) and The Wolfe Brothers (‘Hey Brother’), and he has also worked with artists including Drew McAlister, Travis Collins and Andrew Swift.
In his own right Seeney has regularly appeared in the iTunes Country Chart, and played at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Deni Ute Muster, Broadbeach Country Music Festival and Gympie Music Muster.
The word ‘treasure’ gets bandied about a bit, particularly in the Australian vernacular: ‘she’s a treasure’, ‘national treasure’, ‘pleasure, treasure’. That’s not to say that it isn’t meant sincerely every time, but it’s a reason to say that when using it in the case of singer-songwriter Felicity Urquhart, it is deeply, truly meant. Urquhart is a country music treasure, and she is treasured by many. Her singing, songwriting and instrumental abilities are extraordinary; her generosity of heart and spirit is endless. To be in her audience is to experience joy, every single time. She is a supporter of other artists through her role on Saturday Night Country on ABC radio. She is a valued collaborator, most notably in the band Bennett Bowtell & Urquhart.
Last year Urquhart released her latest album, Frozen Rabbit. Not long afterwards her husband, Glen Hannah, who was also the album’s producer, died suddenly. That might suggest an extra layer of poignancy to her latest single, ‘Speck of Dust’, but that would also suggest that Urquhart doesn’t already infuse her songs with nuances and textures that are discovered with repeated listening.
Says Urquhart of the song, ‘In these unusual times I have felt a myriad of emotions like everyone. Thank goodness for the core thread of love and friendship to see us through these challenges. I wrote this song with a dear friend, Jeremy Edwards, posing questions about our existence and how small we really are in the big picture.’
The song is thoughtful and thought-provoking, and it’s also uplifting. These are actually hallmarks of Urquhart’s songs, from the start of her career: she has never shied away from exploring the sharp angles of life, while also offering her listener beauty. Or perhaps the beauty is in that exploration.
The song’s release was accompanied by a beautifully shot video which shows various aspects of The Australian landscape.
We’ve all been stuck at home for a while with not much chance of any kind of party, let alone a porch party – but that’s precisely why the new single from Jayne Denham is the antidote to the stuck-at-home blues. Denham is a country rock powerhouse, and for ‘Porch Party’ she enlisted two other powerful singers in the form of Australian country artists Jasmine Rae and Amber Lawrence. The trio flew to Brisbane to record the song with producer Andrew Cochrane, and united again to film the video, which also has appearances from Troy Kemp, Drew McAlister, Damian Baguley from The Viper Creek Band and Simply Bushed.
‘We had a ball doing the clip,’ says Denham, ‘with no idea that a few days later the the world was about to be turned upside down and the music industry along with much of the country was about to be shut down.
‘So as we all need to stay at home for a bit, the good news is we ARE able to have a “Porch Party” with our family and neighbours, even if it’s over the fence. So we hope you enjoy the new song and the video, and it helps take your mind off the upheaval that we are all going through at the moment.’
If you’re feeling like your feet are dragging – literally or metaphorically – this is the song to get you out of those doldrums. And there’s nothing wrong with having a porch party on your own on a balcony … just crank up the volume and pretend it’s February 2020 when parties were still allowed!