2017 CD REVIEW
LIAM GERNER & THE SUNSET PUSHERS (www.liamgerner.com)
LIAM ESCAPES HEIFERS AND ELDERLY EQUINES WITH RODEO REFUGEE
“Behind the cypress hedge and the rose garden/ that blurs out the bush from view/ I left our family farm with my foot to the floor/ and my grand-dad's 22/ I'm sick of smelling like I've been on dairy cows/ it ain't no help finding a wife/ there must be some place other than a farm or a city/ where I can live my life.” - Diary Of A Dairy Hand - Liam Gerner.
When Liam Gerner fled his family's fifth generation dairy farm in the Adelaide Hills for the streets of London a decade ago he had a song surfeit to milk for his acclaimed albums.
So it's no surprise his haunting autobiographical anthem Diary Of A Dairy Hand is the cream on his cake, so to speak.
Gerner reveals the travails of those earnest early rising sons and daughters of the soil who are slaves to drought and famine and the pricing whims of corporate city slicker milk processing companies and banks.
Liam's lonesome agrarian refugee escapes with his foot to the floor, armed with grandpa's 22 rifle, and a desire to purge bovine odours that have decimated his love life.
In just under five minutes Liam covers a welter of woes inflicting former peers without needing to detail the perils of catching
Leptospirosis from cow urine or mistaking Artificial Insemination straws in the fridge for an oral late night milk shake of sorts.
We don't need to be reminded of the need to wash one's hands after the seasonal AI anal entry necessary if the Jersey bull is too busy or maybe just exhausted.
It may be timely to remind readers of the fate of the former Warrnambool publican whose hotel was dubbed the Bull-Cutters Arms after he castrated a neighbour's bull when it inseminated his heifers out of season.
Instead let's deal with Gerner's character's career change from dairy hand to singer in his pursuit of love and pleasure.
Well the singer, who also spent part of his adolescence at Yongala near Peterborough in northern South Australia wheat belt, enjoyed his overseas odyssey in Europe and the U.S. with artists diverse as Paul Weller, Jason Isbell, Drive - By Truckers , Paolo Nutini and other roots peers.
Liam then joined the band of New Mexico born rodeo rider and latter day Texan Ryan Bingham who soared to fame with The Weary Kind from the Jeff Bridges movie Crazy Heart .
“While touring a few years ago in the US in Ryan Bingham's band I got to meet some heroes in the US ,” Liam revealed.
“I got to play songs with Jackson Browne in LA, trade licks with Dale Watson in Austin and jam with locals in South Central LA juke joints. I even got to play Johnny Cash's J200 at Marty Stuart's house and discuss song-writing with Tom T Hall in Nashville . All these experiences helped prepare me for working in the Australian music community. And embracing my U.S. and Australian influences and musical friends has helped shape my new music.”
Gerner returned to Australia in 2014 and used the songs he wrote while touring with Bingham to fuel his debut album Land Of No Roads .
Yes, that was the disc reviewed on this web page that featured narcotic narrative Hank & Tammy - saga of two senior citizens whose dope run from Mexico to Florida ended in Texas when they crashed their Winnebago into the ranch of a local judge.
Yes, a descendant of sorts of Texan Robert Earl Keen's oft recorded The Road Goes On Forever and Tom Pacheco tune Robert & Ramona.
But that was then and this is now and Gerner's rural roots enabled him to adopt the persona of an exploited elderly equine in Horse For Hire .
“ Horse For Hire is a good song,” Gerner revealed in an interview to promote his album recorded at Tendertrap studios in his adoptive hometown and Rick Rubin's Shangri La in Malibu .
“It's about lack of work in the bush and horses in the city.”
Gerner telegraphs pain and guilt in drought parched entree This Land Don't Want Us , replete with William Barton on didgeridoo.
The singer paints a bleak portrait of the historic struggles of sons and daughters of the soil whose suffering is accentuated by imported foreign cars, talkback radio and unsympathetic city slickers.
Gerner's character resorts to working as a cleaner below minimum wage to feed family rather than becoming a city computer nerd until the drought breaks.
This Land Don't Want Us segues into an equally bleak tribute to displaced indigenous Australians in Your Property where he uses a hot-wired car metaphor to depict the plight of our original soil serfs eking out a poverty challenged existence in the upper and lower reaches of the once mighty Murray River.
LET'S PRAISE AND BUDDHIST GIRLS IN BAPTIST TOWNS
“So we headed up on into town, passed the old guns and ammo stores/ but we didn't come to buy a gun/ we just came to have some fun/ the natural wonder we are here for turned out to be her/ she's a Buddhist girl in a Baptist town/ she's always smiling, nature's frown.” - Buddhist Girl In A Baptist Town - Liam Gerner-Luke Moller.
So what inspired the album title?
Despite Melbourne being the Australian car-jacking, home invasion and jewellery store armed robbery capital it was sweet solace for Gerner to return.
“It was funny actually I got back to Melbourne , which is a great music town, but people just wanted to know why I would give up everything overseas,” Gerner explained.
“Whereas I said, ‘hang on a sec, I'm more excited to be here because there is an awesome music scene in Australia '.
“While I made incredible music connections overseas there was always this sense of not being on solid ground, because you're constantly being sponsored by record labels and therefore you have that need to write a hit hanging over you.
“Whereas here I could just come together with old mates and new friends to jam for a bit of a laugh over a few beers in a really natural process.”
“Since returning to Australia , much of my writing has been focussed around my connection to home. That being the conflicting emotions and realities of what it means to be Australian.”
So it's no surprise world weary traveller Gerner, now 33, daubs a much broader palette on romance requiem Tjurkurpa and the regret tinged memories of Huon Boathouse.
Huon Boathouse , accompanied by a cinematic video, was filmed in Van Diemens Land and a sweet sales stimulus for Gerner.
Equally memorable is the jaunty ecumenical eulogy Buddhist Girl In A Baptist Town - a song inspired by an ageless woman on a billboard during the singer's travels from Nashville to the Carolinas.
Buddhists may not be a majority in country music but late legendary Georgian singer-songwriter and frequent Australian tourist Steve Young adopted the faith long after writing classics diverse as Seven Bridges Road , Montgomery In The Rain and
Lonesome Ornery & Mean that became hit for The Eagles , Hank Williams Jr and the late Waylon Jennings.
Sadly Steve died at 73 on March 17, 2016, but revealed his vivid memories of rattlesnakes in baskets in churches on his debut Australian tour.
The Baptists have long been prominent in country and gospel music.
Late Georgian country comedian Tim Wilson's hilarious First Baptist Bar & Grill celebrated novelty nuptials between sinner and saints and is a constant crowd pleaser on Nu Country TV and community radio.
Gerner saves his vocal nuptials for his highly accessible duet with fellow South Australian born belle Kasey Chambers on evocative ballad Far Away .
It segues into the climatic clout of Being Hot Helps .
Liam's angst anchor weighs down Just A Dream and Miss Potential but his energy returns in feisty finale Get Right On It that moderates mood swings on 12 original tunes.
Gerner's album is countrified by Luke Moller's fiddle and mandolin, Shane Reilly's pedal steel, piano and baritone guitar, Mark Goldenberg's acoustic slide and Bruce Haymes Hammond organ.
Drummer trio Jay Bellerose, Roger Bergodaz and Toby Lang and dual bassists Jennifer Condo and Steve Hadley and engineer Eric Lynn flesh out the sound on Hammond B3 and piano.
DAIRY HAND TEAT CUP NOTE
Not all fifth generation dairy farming progeny become musicians after escaping to find true love and a literary vocation.
This septuagenarian diarist fled to Van Diemen's Land to start a 52 year journalism, TV and radio career.
And, yes, he wrote a song about his dairy belle who first rang for him 41 years ago after leaving her Camperdown farm to also become a journalist.
But her name was changed to Jody in the song recorded by Wolverines band leader Darcy LeYear and former Melbourne singer B. J. McKay.
Yes, a Presbyterian princess in a Catholic town.