Totally Biased Fan Review: Charcoal and Ash – Aaron D’Arcy

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Not long after I arrived to live in Victoria, I went to a gig…..well, I went to a lot of gigs, where you see as many artists in the crowd as you do on the stage.  My mate introduced me to a bloke called Aaron D’Arcy.  The name sounded vaguely familiar…..then I slowly connected the dots….he was a member of Jeanie and had a song out with one of my favourite artists, Aleyce Simmonds……Bingo! Then, I bumped into Aaron at some more gigs and eventually got to hear him sing.

Long before I was a country music fan, I was a flower child folk music lover, a 60’s Rock and Roller and a blues music gal. If you combine all four genres, you get the earthy, gutsy little performer, Aaron D’Arcy. What I admire about Aaron, more than anything else,  is the way that he thinks. He is an ideas man. We were both at one of Allan Caswell’s songwriting workshops in Melbourne, recently and it was really amazing listening to his ideas and suggestions. I think that he will make a good decision maker in the years to come when they need administrators on a board or two for country music.

A lot of those thoughts, were, of course, creative ones. This album was well in the works at that workshop but I think that he was interested in hearing other people’s ideas and suggestions.

When you look into Aaron’s history and his technical work history, you can understand why the album is so polished and his outlook is so professional.

Before the release of the album, several singles have already been out there. The current one, Drink it Up, is doing great guns, and so it should.  Postcards with Dani Young has been a big smash and just about every Community Radio Station in Australia is flogging it. It has been a big hit. Summer Song and I give my heart to you (a personal favourite) have also been released previously as singles.

Running On Empty is not the Jackson Browne classic, but hopefully, it will be an Aaron D’Arcy classic.  It is a little bit different to the other songs on the album, a bit different in tempo and the guitars are much more twangy.  It is definitely up there with my favourites.

Aaron D’Arcy’s music has a certain groove to it. It is bluesy and gutsy, like the man himself but it varies with some interesting backbeat on songs like My Story Cries No More which is as interesting as its title. It has a really catchy tune and the words and phrasing are unique. It will be a song that gets into your head on two levels.

Where I Hide is probably the most “country” song on the album and I have heard him sing this before and I was hoping that it would be on here. This will be a singalong song at gigs and the arms will be swaying in the crowd for sure. Many beers will be drunk with this song…..and cheap wine, of course!

Aaron is a multi instrumentalist, and is qualified in sound engineering, which would explain all of the technical effects and production value.

He is not afraid to change things up. He warned me a little about some of the tracks – I think the words that he used were “there are a couple of songs that are way to the left” which could have meant a few things! The last track is one of these, I think, but there is a good spooky feeling about it….it his quite haunting. I have a feeling that the more times I play it, the more I will like it.

Aaron is an original. It is hard to compare him with others (and I am not a fan of doing that anyway, save to say that it does help the fans relate to an artist more in a review), however, he has a certain energy that is very rare and a sound that it different. He has elements of a lot of genres in his music, but chiefly, if you love the blues, this is your man.

You can pre-order Aaron’s album now, via iTunes or from Aaron’s website or send him a line or two on his facebook page.

If you get the opportunity to see Aaron LIVE, then don’t pass it up. He can mix his styles and he has a lot of energy. I think that he has a very big future ahead of him.

 

Tracks:

Drink It Up

I Give My heart to You

Postcards (Featuring Dani Young)

Summer Song

Running On Empty

My Story Cries No More

Where I Hide

God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Totally Biased Fan Review: Believing In Me – Gary Ellis

 

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As most people know, I generally review original material and singer/songwriters. However, there are some folks in our industry who have been around for so long that without them, we would have never had a country music scene and who tend to sound as good as they did when started out more than a couple of years ago. They sing because they love doing it, because they believe in the words and the music that they are delivering and because they were there when it was all just a bit of a dream and not the big and flourishing and evolving situation that it is today.

Gary Ellis has been honoured in Tamworth in one of the biggest ways and he carries on singing and playing and mixing it with young and old and in between. He is traditional country, he is an old cowboy who sings it like it is without bells and whistles and all the trimmings. He is straight up and out there.

He does mainly covers, but they are not always ones that you would expect. Apart from Storms Never Last ( a classic that has been sung by many and was written by Jessie Colter) and Fly Like A Bird (interesting choice but a well known song) most of the tracks are not in the obvious cover category.

One of my favourite songs is the current single and it was going to have to be a good version to impress me, because I hold the Travis Sinclair/Sara Storer song written by legendary Garth Porter as a very sacred song. It is a good version. He is well helped by Tessa Libreri of Destiny Oz fame.

There are some interesting choices apart from Boz Scaggs’ Fly Like A Bird, like Lyle Lovett’s Farther Down The Line and Norma O’Hara Murphy’s Warwick Gold Cup.  As with most country music albums with covers, there has to be a Johnny Cash song, but it is usually Folsom Prison Blues or Ring of Fire, here it is Tennessee Flat Top Box. It has that old Johnny Cash rhythm.

This is the kind of album that goes down well on a Sunday, or at an outback pub or hall. There will be those who will get up and do a turn or two on the dance floor, or tap their feet to old classics.

The songs not only have that good old country sound but they cover all of the old familiar ground of love, horses, old cowboys, family, rodeos, battlers and the road.

Gary keeps the old things alive. In a music genre which has many types, legends like Mr Ellis remind us all where it began.

 

 

Tracks:

I’ll be home soon with Tessa Libreri

Do it all over again

Farther Down the Line

Happy Birthday my darlin’

Saddle up and ride

Tennessee Flat top box

Storms Never Last with Janaka

Country Balladeer

Believing in Me

You’ve got her eyes

Warwick Gold Cup

Smell the rose and read the card

Fly like a bird

Guitar Boogie