Totally Biased Fan Review: Fingerprints – Rod McCormack

RodMcCormackFingerprints

This album is amazing on so many levels. We often think of Rod as a producer, musician, co-ordinator of big events and we aren’t aware of his own individual talent as a singer and master instrumentalist of his own work. We finally have his wife, Gina Jeffrey’s releasing a new album after a long time and now we have this masterpiece by the man himself.

On this mammoth effort, Rod has written or co-written every song. His vocals are put to the fore and his musicianship and production are top notch, as you would expect from one of Australia’s best producers and instrumentalists.

There is no mistaking this album for pure country, with some high quality bluegrass thrown in and some wonderful duets and a real mix of slower and more up tempo songs.

If you love your guitars and fiddles and mandolins and banjos, then they are all here. I have to say, though that the quality of Rod’s vocals and the songwriting are the surprises here. Why did Rod take so long to give this kind of gift to our ears? Who knew? Often behind the scenes or looking after everybody else, Rod shines in the spotlight here.

This album is a marathon, an amazing one. Every track is special and original. It is hard to pick standouts, as they are all so beautifully crafted and presented.  I have witnessed Rod’s work since he started out with his brother Jeff, and the long hair and quietly playing away with his distinctive style for others. This is quite a gem.

Another Tinsel Town, Double Rainbow, Fingerprints (with Gina), Wherever You Go with Claire Lynch are probably amongst my favourites, but there are so many fine tracks. On the bonus edition, there are 19 tracks. It is a feast of superb instrumentals and songs that will have you humming, strumming and tapping your feet.

This is a classy and classic offering of amazing country music. In a year of wonderful surprises this has to be amongst the biggest.  More, Rod, More.

 

Tracks: (Bonus Edition)

Shimmers (R McCormack and G McCormack)

Another TInsel Town (RMcCormack, T Thompson, S Gay)

Brand New Friend (R McCormack, R Bourke, E Adeline)

Covering Your Tracks (R.McCormack, T Lunsford, W. Denney)

Fingerprints featuring Gina Jeffreys (R.McCormack, J.S. Sherrill)

Timeless Traveller (R. McCormack)

Ballad of Willie Johnson (RMcCormack, D. Johnston)

It takes Years (R.McCormack, R. Bourke, E Adeline)

Another Nail (R.McCormack, T Lunsford, W Denney)

It Was Love featuring Clare Lynch (R. McCormack, G Jeffreys, C Majeski)

Wherever You Go (featuring Claire Lynch) (R.McCormack, G. Jeffreys, C Majeski)

Double Rainbow (RMcCormack, J.S. Sherrill)

One Teardrop Away – featuring Tomi Lunsford (R.McCormack, T. Lunsford, W. Denney)

Bonus tracks:

I’m Still Here – (Rod and F. Koller)

Winter Worn (Rod and J.S. Sherrill)

Better Than That (Rod, J.S. Sherrill, E Adeline)

Lock and Key (R.McCormack, T Thompson, S Gay)

Sweetwater (Rod)

Puttin’ Out Fires (Rod, F Koller)

Produced by Rod McCormack

Assisted by Scott Paschall

Mastered by Jeff McCormack

Dave Pomeroy Upright Bass

Andy Leftwich – Mandolin, Fiddle and Tenor Guitar

Aubrey Haynie – Fiddle and Mandolin

Rob Ickes and Justin Moses Dobro

Templeton Thompson – Backing Vocals

Larry Franklin – Fiddle on One teardrop away

Rod McCormack – Guitar, Banjo, Papoose, Vocals and Backing Vocals.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Travelling Salesman – Brad Butcher

Brad Butcher Travelling Salesman

It is very hard to review an artist after the last album that he produced is one of my favourites of all time in Australian Country Music. I don’t have all the credits this time, so that makes it even harder, but I know that Matt Fell, the magic man produced it. I so loved Brad’s last album. I think that I have worn it down so that the silver of the cd is now colourless.

A hard act to follow.

And yet….

Brad is one of the nicest guys in the business. I know that I say that a lot, but he is.

Now to get down to the nitty gritty, without knowing the background. I will get the hard copy off  Brad when I see him in concert.

The album opens with the single, Nature’s Course, which has more guitars going on than most of his other works. It does have some familiar Butcher touches though.

I try not to be too analytical when I review an album, because a lot of songs are open to interpretation and my interpretations may be wrong.

I’m all in is probably my favourite of the first three tracks.

It is great to see a modern cool songwriter recognise a legend, and in  I Walk The Line Revisited, Brad obviously recognises this.

I actually thinks that this album gets better as it goes on. There are some licks and sounds that are very similar to earlier releases but there are some lyrical ventures that push the arrow towards go.

Brad Butcher has a distinctive sound and that can be  a blessing and a curse. Lyrically, this album goes off in several tangents, most of which are awesome. However, there are times when I have to think that it sounds a lot like his other songs and while I loved Brad’s other songs, you have to move on.

To be honest, I could listen to Brad sing Humpty Dumpty and I would be happy. I just think that while lyrically, (and I am a words person), he is awesome, the sound, sometimes, sounds repetitive.

As I said earlier, I think that his music is worth listening and believing in, he is still young and fresh and there is a long road ahead. Maybe a few change ups and a few studies in different avenues.

A fine voice, great messages, awesome words but some changes in instrumental direction would be great.

Favourite  song, without a doubt is Freshwater Lady.

Compared to his last album, a very tough act to follow.  I will listen to Brad Butcher sing the phone book. His sound is distinctive, his potential tremendous, but he just needs to push himself to another level. You can do it, Brad.

 

 

Tracklist:
01 – Nature’s Course
02 – Suburban Myth
03 – I’m All In
04 – Easy Street
05 – Take It As A Sign
06 – Blood On My Hands
07 – I Walk The Line Revisited
08 – The Wayside
09 – Freshwater Lady
10 – The Unknown
11 – Travelling Salesman

Totally Biased Fan Review: Raindance – Sara Storer

Sarastorerraindance.png

I remember watching what was probably the first television appearance by Sara Storer, I think that it was on A Current Affair or 60 minutes….it was not in the studio, it was in the great outdoors somewhere. The young singer was as Aussie as Vegemite used to be and there was definitely no frills about her.  It was refreshing, but I wondered how well she would be embraced by the commercial world, and for how long, given that she was not a ‘certain type’. If you look at the gals that she hung around with on the Central Coast, eventually, Beccy Cole and Kasey Chambers, for instance, they aren’t a certain type either, and the three of them have done ok…..I reckon.

Having said that, this album is probably a bit different to what most Sara Storer fans would be expecting. Yes, the songs are about a lot of the subjects that you would expect from Sara – the drought, the country life, her family, mateship, but every song has a different flavour. There is a different approach to the musical arrangements, at least that is what my ears are picking up.

The Genius Matt Fell seems to be experimenting a bit with this aspect of Sara’s music. Instrumentally, it is a very different feel. Don’t worry, though, Sara fans, it just enhances Sara’s songs.  Brother Greg Storer has a big influence on this album as well, as per usual. His contribution is fairly significant.

Sara also took a gamble by singing a song that isn’t hers, which is most unusual. The fact that the writer of that song, the legendary Colin Hay, sings it with her is also a big plus. The two very different voices from totally different backgrounds sing Next Year People with gusto and it is a song that could have easily been written by Sara.

The album opens with a song that has a sombre start but becomes almost a Celtic jig. It is a great kick off for the album. My Little Men is about Sara’s four sons, Harry, Tom, Billy and Joe. (The names themselves speak loudly of Sara’s down to earth nature – flash, modern names for Sara!) This is a beautiful, frank song about the character of her boys and how she couldn’t live without them.

Every boy needs a bike is obviously another dedication to her kids, and it is a sweet simple song that people will be able to relate to.  How Sweet The Voice is probably the hardest hitting song, though Hayrunner has some moments too.

Natalie is a lovely gentle song….a little splash of pink amongst the glory of blue. I am guessing that she is a niece. It is just so sweet. I can imagine a video. The pictures are very clear.

Fox will split the audience a bit. For anyone who has lived on the land, you will understand this song and this story. There maybe some animal activists out there who will contest it, but when your chooks get killed and you have to weigh up what is most important and what animal creates the most havoc and danger, you may change your mind.

The Captain is not the Kasey Chambers song, though it would seem fitting in many ways. It is a beautiful, Celtic sounding song, that Lloyd Clarke or Craig Stewart would be proud of.  Quite stunning really.

Someday is one of my favourite songs on this album. It is a song for simple dreamers. People who don’t ask for much but hope that those wishes come true.

When I copied the title of Jigalong Girls, it came out as Jiggling Girls.  This song takes a few listens. Mentions of the Rabbit Fence, running, covering up footsteps and you will get the picture, a very Australian story.

This is a very polished, well produced album, with a few different brushstrokes for Sara but still a great Australian life soundtrack and probably her best album yet.  I think that Sara with the flash name but the down to earth outlook and heart has come up with a gem.

 

 

Tracks

“Raindance” – 3:44
“My Little Men” – 4:13
“Plough’n It In” – 2:57
“Next Year People” (featuring Colin Hay) – 4:23
“Hayrunner” – 4:45
“Every Boy Needs a Bike” – 3:37
“How Sweet the Voice” – 3:49
“Natalie” – 3:45
“Fox” – 2:40
“The Captain” – 3:16
“Someday” – 3:21
“Jigalong Girls” – 3:50

The Single Life – Episode 2

45countryep

 

My young mate, Chandler Jay has released his very first single at the ripe old age of 15. I have followed Chandler since he was a little boy. His original song, ironically called “I’m Original”, was released in this last week. Chandler has worked very hard, busking and putting himself out there at many festivals, shopping centres and anywhere and everywhere. Listen out for this song. It is a beauty. Lithgow gal, Kell, with the very raw country rock sound of Coming Home belts her new song out. It is a toe tapper and shoulder shifter. Brooke Schubert, sings a power ballad with Here I am, to give you a full on country rock number. Renee Jonas does a re-working of the song that she originally released a few years ago on her EP, Butterflies. A beautiful song with a great voice behind it. Jade Holland delivers one of her best songs so far with Lives on the Lawn. Hillbilly Cider by Jed Zarb with Dani Young is a bluegrass, hillbilly fun song with plenty of shoulder shifting toe tapping moments.

Train to Godforsaken is the new release from Allan Caswell, a co-write with one of the other top songwriters in Australia, Michael Waugh. This is an event in itself, as Michael doesn’t normally do co-writes, but who knocks back Sir Allan? It is a train song, tick, it is about a line of railway track that I know back to front and I have had similar experiences on it. It is written by two of the best and it is one of those songs that just sticks in your head. An awesome song, one of my faves of the year, so far.

Jase Lansky promised me a new album at Tamworth this year, but for now, I am content with a single. This song is the mildly grammatically incorrect Hella Good Time, and it is upbeat and danceworthy. I can’t wait to hear the rest. Jase is not one to play every song the same way so in a Forrest Gump way, you just don’t know what you are going to get.

Likewise, NeillyRich have opted to go more upbeat and mix things up with Hey You, which is a very interesting take on a relationship. Cool song, which I heard in Tamworth, as they tried out some new rockier material.

 

Let me know if you have some singles to release and I will chat about them.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Shanley Del and James Gillard EP

ShanleyDelandJamesGillard.jpg

Waiting for something from these two extraordinary artists was like a kid waiting for Christmas Day to dawn or for a Christian waiting for the Second Coming.

Like all good things, it was worth the wait. Shanley and I are the same age and probably have many of the same influences in our lives. This Kiwi who is firmly planted in Aussie culture, harmonises so beautifully with James, always has. Shanley usually takes the lead and James adds the frosting and the cream. It is lovely to hear James step up on Make you cry. This four song teaser EP is a mix of old and new, including one of my favourite songs of all time, Your Own Sweet Time. Over the last few years, Shanley has slowly edged herself back into performing, especially with Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes.

There is a rumour that there will be an album later in the year, and I look forward to that. These two are two of Australasia’s finest.  James has been in just about everybody’s band and does more back ups than a Mac truck on the Hume Highway.

I have always been a big fan of both of them and James has been a particular idol for me. The two of them together is pretty speccy. Four songs are not enough….more, more, more….please….

This EP is absolutely faultless.

 

Tracks:

Need to talk to you

Make you cry

Your Own Sweet Time

I’ve Got All the Time In The World