CD REVIEW - 2012


"I saw you dancing real old fashioned like/ with the boys on the corner on Saturday night/your dress off the shoulder, your hair in your eyes/ I guess you were just making a scene/ you gave me nothing but throwaway lines/ I still don't know what they mean." - Whistle And Waltz - Lachlan Bryan

When Lachlan Bryan emerged from the shadows of Melbourne band The Wildes he added a little musical magic to his tableau.

So when he wrote a dozen new songs he chose production that made his eclectic songs more accessible.

Not only did Bryan benefit from acclaimed NSW Central Coast producer Rod McCormack's multi-instrumentation he also enjoyed the talent of his seasoned session serfs.

Now that gave Bryan a duet partner - Kasey Chambers - on Whistle And Waltz and Poppa Bill on lap steel.

The Chambers were the perfect vehicle to drive a tune rooted back in that romantic era of B & S Balls in the sixties.

Those were halcyon days of yore at woolshed parties where rural rhythms reigned with none of the hubris of mobile phones and facile face bookers.

Young men would traverse the diverse hard wood floors, recently cleared of fleeces and dags, to take damsels on their arms for waltzes, two steps and fox trots.

They might even ignite a life long love on their broad acres without the distraction of big city broads.

But not all life beyond the city limits is idyllic bliss when drought, floods and bushfires frequently return with or without carbon taxes and climate change catalysts.

Take the case of Unfortunate Rose - entrée song of a disc also featuring Bryan on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

The vanquished victim, once a late spring bloomer, is left alone on a shelf after never finding a lover equal to her demands and great expectations.

Bryan exploits floral metaphors to detail the decline of a wasted woman who never chose a life long partner.

It's a sibling song of sorts of Lily Of The Fields - saga of another belle of the ball who never rang the right number.

Bryan covers most country staples as he traces the tale from rose picking in fields to a funeral where the lilies find a home in bibles as an old train whistle echoes by the riverside.


"A woman's intuition goes only so far/ it took me a day and a half to get your perfume out of my car/ how I'd love to be with you in the morning/ but I just don't think that there's a way/ I guess you'll be the secret I take to the grave." - Secret I'll Take To The Grave - Lachlan Bryan.

Bryan, a man who once had no ring on his finger but time on his hands, credits the cheaters and charlatans who litter daytime TV shows as the source of Secret I'll Take To The Grave.

You may have seen the sources as a shift worker or on sick leave.

The singer makes the most of his literary licence to explore a litany of illicit lovers, pill poppers and other Hollyweird denizens of the screen.

It's often easier to depict that sort of sordid tale from a distance.

But the singer reputedly had a ringside seat as a schoolboy on the famed Frankston train for the junkie duo of As Best I Can.

He injects their argumentative conversation about a troubled relationship into the verses without revealing their football club allegiance.

Bryan is not afraid to draw from his own misdeeds or regrets - he credits a lyric from his morning after lament Going Straight for his album title.

The singer confesses a sin or two as he utilises more biblical and funeral references in his redemptive requiem.

Bryan also ploughs regret and then envy about an ex-lover on the verge of marriage with a new beau in Fly By Night.

He is aided and abetted by back-up singer - Novocastrian Catherine Britt - as his character tries to dissuade his ex from betrothal.


"There was a girl I used to know/ and you know we were such a pair/ well she was always destined for much greater things than I/ but her will to live was questioned and at 23 she was dead." - I'd Rather Sing In Churches (Cos I'm Tired Of Being In Bars - Lachlan Bryan

More personal is the self-deprecation of I'd Rather Sing In Churches - another song featuring Britt.

The singer reaches back to when he was 10 and sang in the school choir at church.

It's a vast contrast to his more recent warbling in the inner suburban skull orchards where bottles and egos are often smashed, hand guns drawn and grievous bodily harm inflicted on patrons.

But the singer confesses his latter day liquid vocal font is a goal he long cherished.

To temper ambition with, maybe mercy, the singer's character returns to graves and tombstones as the hapless deceased female is transported to new digs in the after life.

Bryan also exploits a haunted house metaphor in the regret-tinged Home Of The Blues.

The singer wrote the song about his ghostly rented home a few months before he decamped.

Bryan is well supported by session men as his character's former belle again finds happiness with a new lover on his country shuffle The Things You Left Behind.

And, like many good songs, there's a backdrop of trains, railway stations and yet another rarity - a small town with a radio station playing country songs.

Yes, the further you travel from the concrete canyons the more likely you are to hear country music on local radio.

The singer's character is buried in the lachrymose lava of losers in love as he bids adios to more former flames in Almost Like Saying Goodbye.

But the male lead in the apt finale The Sweet And Bitter End yearns true love while wanting to retain the role of a philanderer.

The latter is, of course, not about a stamp collector and features another Bill Chambers' discovery - Kaylah Anne - on backing vocals.

OK, thanks to welcome detailed song sources provided by the artist, that's the gist of the disc.

What about the music?

Well, the Music Cellar is a fine studio in the hands of producer Rod and bassist brother Jeff McCormack.

Guitarist Glen Hannah, drummer Hamish Stuart and Gary Steel on piano, accordion and Hammond organ flesh out the sound.

They might be the mechanics who fire up the engine but all is for naught if the songs don't merit the lubrication.

Bryan proves his songs have suffice depth and credibility to be shot into the mainstream from the shadow of his gun.

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