DIARY - 28 JUNE 2010 - LESLIE AVRIL CD REVIEW
I'M ALRIGHT JACK (INDIE).
AVRIL BARES SOUL IN SONG
I swore when I was 15 years old I'd be retired at 30/ I told every man
in town I would be back and dirty at 40/I kept on doing it, I did those
gigs for years and years/in the heat and dust and rain and the floods/to
try and sell my songs but I'm still here." - How Long - Leslie
was raised in Eltham and moved much deeper into the Victorian bush
before the horrific Black Saturday fires claimed a bunch of buddies.
But Smiths Gully chanteuse Leslie Avril is a true survivor - she proves
it again on this soulful masterpiece.
Sure, she's on the flip side of 50 on only her fourth album since
she long ago trod the boards with Reuben Tice, embryo of the Skyhooks
But, like the fermented grapes she has groped, she has matured with
age in a career that embraces jazz, blues, rock and her first love
As one of the best practitioners of her art she bares soul and travails
of her travels in her originals.
leaving best to last in four songs penned with guitarist producer Sam
She kicks off with How Long - a powerful paean to her career longevity.
The broken dreams, horrific hurdles and personal tragedy are meat on this
Avril doesn't beat around any of those metaphoric bushes - her entrée
is a salient signpost to the struggles of a soulful spirit refusing to
And that's just one searing song - an autobiographical trip down the years
of a woman, never deafened by the ticking of the biological clock.
show's all over now, in the backroom with the band/ miles from my home
again, temperature is coming down/ out on the dance floor, DJ is playing
too loud/ should go home and rest my voice tonight." - Foolish
Things - Leslie Avril-Sam Lemann.
Want to know
why Avril is not the star she should be?
Well, it obviously has nothing to do with talent, taste and desire.
Maybe some of it is explained here - nocturnal struggles for stardom far
from home and post gig peaks and valleys are reprised in Foolish Things.
Avril hasn't Googled heartbreak and sorrow in cyberspace.
She has lived it so many times in thousands of neon choral corrals and
smoky skull orchards in all vast expanses of the globe.
Not just the pubs, clubs and concert halls of her homeland - the unlucky
radio country for artists who choose to follow their musical passion and
not the cloying corporate chain radio wasteland.
Avril has ventured deep into Scandinavia, the U.S. Europe and the South
Pacific in chasing her dream.
Put a mike in her hand and she soars to that fame flame with none of the
calculated career choreographing of lesser lasses.
Avril picks up the slack for precious pre-fabricated peers as she portrays
the heavy lifting of a long-suffering spouse in Hard Workin' Woman.
Who is the woman who returns from working the bars, without opiates and
pills, and cleans the house while burning the midnight oil for that ungrateful
Well, it's the sweetheart of the rodeo who finds solace in the radio and
Yes, real country.
"It's 4 am, Eastern Standard feeling/ I swear I know every crack
in this ceiling/ the TV's getting on my nerves/ I can't stand to look/
my eyes won't stay on the words on the pages of my book." - Eastern
Standard Time - Paul Gadbsy.
is Eastern Standard Time - an insomnia anthem of pain and little
pleasure - written by bassist Paul Gadsby.
heroine is again home alone - this time it's the boudoir and her constant
companions provide temporary relief but won't save her from her fate.
There's radio, TV and the almost forgotten tool of the trade - the
Maybe tall bassists also enjoy tall stories in the small hours.
But I digress.
And there's Steve Teakle's accordion driven treatment of vitriolic
Perfect World - penned by Chris Stockley, guitarist in her
nineties band The Blue Healers.
Blue Healers - as distinct from the Johland country band of the same name
with a different vowel movement - were one of those short-lived but well
loved suburban combos.
It's Teakle on piano in the driver's seat of the idyllic Lonely &
Longing - a tune from Leslie's long time drummer DJ Gary Young and
his singing spouse Angie.
Those homegrown homilies are tastefully punctuated by a heartfelt duet
with different drummer Andy Swann on Dan Penn-Chips Moman soul standard
Dark End Of The Street.
They are followed by equally evocative Tonight The Heartache's On Me.
Yes, the same song that helped shoot lauded Texan trio the Dixie Chicks
to international fame and fortune.
Avril also honours local peer Marni Sheehan in spiritual cheating song
Devil Call Your Name.
alone now you're gone/ I hate to see you go, but now you're gone how do
we carry on/ never felt so all alone/ I walk in the wind but I feel I'm
going nowhere." - Song For Les - Leslie Avril-Sam Lemann
unconditional support for mentors peaks in her tribute to her late
bassist Les Scott in Song For Les.
"I've lost a few bass players," Avril confessed.
"Spiro Philipas from the Blue Healers, Les Katzmarek from Adelaide
(original Cold Chisel) and then another - Les. Very sad stuff."
Lemann embellishes co-writing on this acoustic gem with dexterity
on four and eight string Ukuleles with Trevor Reading on double bass.
The cream on Avril's gateau is her French vocal on La Musique Country,
replete with accordion.
trite - but how many bi-lingual country chanteuses reign this far south
It's not clear if Lemann or Leslie should be credited for sequencing of
haunting beauty Love Letters and inspired reading of Texan legend
Guy Clark's epic L.A. Freeway as her finale.
Yes, prolific latter day Tennessee troubadour and luthier Clark is one
of the many artists to share stages with Avril.
You may not read much elsewhere about this dynamic disc but it could be
the sleeper of the year.
Certainly, no need to try before you buy.
Just check out the other session serfs - multi-instrumentalist Andy Baylor
and backing vocalists including Jody Bell and the boys in the band.
CD slick cover shot was taken at Albert Park Lake.
Andrew Cohen at the Wooden Boat Association supplied the old wooden
rowing boat The Lindsay Symons.
"It took me months to find one," Avril confessed.
"The old bloke who is holding the antique telescope is CD sponsor
Jack Hutchinson from Brisbane."
So who provided the appealing apparel worn by Avril?
"My dresser is Aussie rep Christine Bitomsky for Vivian on Holloway
in London," says the singer.
"They also dress Nigella Lawson."
What about that white chapeau and frilly undergarment on the inside
"I took my own petticoat pics," the singer confided.
And the back
sleeve features the subject of the CD dedication - Papuan born bassist
Jack is available at P O Box 34, Smiths Gully, Victoria - 3760, and
The Last Record Store - 304 Smith St, Collingwood.
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